Should kids be exposed to technology at an early age?
Do you remember the first tv? It could only play in black & white and it was so huge and heavy it looked like a refrigerator in your living room. The 1st mobile phone was the size of a small purse and the weight of a brick and this was in the year 1973. Fast forward to 2009, we have made a quantum leap in the way technological advancements have been integrated into our lives.
It feels great to sort of delve ourselves in this digital and technological world, looking up memes and jokes or even taking a couple of pics for the ‘gram’. However, often than not we have to constantly check ourselves to avoid being slaves to technology.
The feeling is mutual and some might say ‘imperative’ for parents to keep track of their kid’s activities as almost every kid these days owns a smartphone, laptop or tablet or has access to one. PBS has reported this:
- Children under the age of 8 use technology for an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes each day, which is a consistent figure over the past decade.
- Kids between the ages of 5-8 spend almost 3 hours each day with screen-based technologies.
- 98% of children live in a home that owns at least one mobile device.
Thus here are some guidelines to help parents navigate this tricky road. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2013) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (2010) have published the following screen time guidelines:
- Children under the age of 2: Should not be exposed to any screen time including TV, smartphones, and tablets
- Children aged 2 to 4 years old: Screen time limited to less than one hour a day
- Aged 5 and above No more than two hours daily of recreational screen time
- Break up the time their child spends in front of the TV or using handheld tech devices to intervals of 20 to 30 minutes per session.
Dr Soong Chi Mei, Senior Principal Psychologist at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital had this to say; “We need to accept the reality that mobile devices are here to stay and have become part of our lives. Moderate use of these devices, balanced with other social and active activities is key,”
Cons of Early Technology Exposure for Kids
Developmental Concerns: Excessive screen time can impede a child’s physical, cognitive, and social development, potentially leading to delayed milestones.
Reduced Physical Activity: Spending too much time with technology can discourage kids from engaging in physical activities, which are crucial for their health.
Risk of Addiction: Young children may develop addictive behavior towards screens, affecting their ability to focus on other activities.
Inappropriate Content: Unsupervised use of technology can expose children to age-inappropriate content, impacting their emotional and psychological well-being.
Social Interaction: Excessive screen time can hinder the development of essential social skills, leading to difficulties in forming real-world relationships.
Pros of Early Technology Exposure for Kids
Educational Resources: Technology provides access to a wealth of educational apps, games, and content that can aid in early learning and skill development.
Enhanced Creativity: Some digital tools and apps can stimulate creativity and imagination in children, encouraging them to explore their ideas.
Digital Literacy: Early exposure to technology can equip kids with essential digital literacy skills necessary for the modern world.
Global Awareness: Technology allows kids to connect with people from different cultures and learn about the world beyond their immediate surroundings.
Parental Control: Parents can use technology to monitor and control their child’s online activities, ensuring a safe and controlled digital environment.
So, at the end of the day, moderation should be a key factor in deciding how to integrate technology into your child’s life. Another key element is purpose. Most parents give technology to their kids as a distraction so they can focus on work, rest, etc. However, this becomes a problem if the child is attached negatively to it. Parents should introduce technology with the purpose of education, inspiration, and discipline to ensure their kid gets the most out of it.
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