Raising children in this digital age can be rather tricky and can also take its toll on us parents. Children are easily drawn to them, and as parents, who almost always want to keep our children happy, we tend to give in more often than we intend to. Read on for a few tips and tricks on how we can get these devices and technology to work to our advantage and to benefit our children more.
Digital devices have become major tools that we utilize in everyday life. You and your family likely have many devices within your home that are reflective of our current tech boom. As you raise your digital natives, you must be prepared to introduce and orient them with various forms of technology. It’s important that you guide and monitor your child’s interaction with devices like the television, computers, tablets and smartphones. Each device is classified with varying degrees of age-appropriateness, educational benefits and potential negative effects. Here is a list of digital devices your kids will encounter and an exploration of their pros and cons:
Television is commonly thought of as an entertainment device that merely provides an escape. However, there are many benefits of television, as it can engage the viewer and transmit information quickly. Educational videos are wonderful resources for kids ages 3-17 years old. However, pediatricians say that television shouldn’t be watched before age two. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found, from a study in 2011, that children under 2 years old can’t cognitively comprehend what’s being projected on the screen and retain that information. Recently though, the AAP has begun to change its tune on knowledge retention from television use. They acknowledge that kids can learn and benefit from television if it requires interaction ~ which many new generations allow for. Interactive responses transmitted through touch or speech response can induce learning and create solid connections in your baby or toddler’s brain.
A computer is one of our best resources for exploration of information. Your child will be required in many educational settings to use a computer and the internet. Create solid boundaries and rules around computer use so the device doesn’t become harmful or used for the wrong reasons. Make sure your kids are old enough, around the age of five or so, to understand that food and beverages can’t be around the computers. Have special security settings on the internet, so they have limited access to the world wide web. There is unlimited content on the internet, a good portion of which is explicit and inappropriate for kids. To help, PCMag has compiled a list of the best parental control software which monitor and filter internet content.
A tablet does virtually everything your laptop does, though costs less and is more kid-friendly. Dr. Carolyn James from Leapfrog Enterprises says that “by age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content. This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.” Choose a tablet for your child that they can easily hold in their hands, like the iPad mini 4, which also offers myriad games and even video calling. Make sure your child has a healthy balance of free time to play on their tablet and real-world experiences and interactions.
Smartphones are devices that you should get for your child when they have reached a mature age. The phone should accompany their independence, so they can check in with you as they move between school, social events and extracurricular activities. The pre-teen or teen years are the ones that most require the use of a mobile phone. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 75 percent of teens age 13 to 17 have a smartphone. Make sure you sit with your child and explain the responsibilities of owning a smartphone before you let them have one. Explain concepts such as data usage, information privacy, cyberbullying and internet predators. Find a parental monitoring app for the phone so you can stay assured that your child is using the phone responsibly and isn’t in any danger of cyber threats.