You may have heard the story of a four year old girl typing on her dad’s computer. Her dad walks in and asks what she is doing.
“I’m writing a story,” she said.
“What’s it about?” asks her dad.
“I don’t know daddy, I can’t read!” was her reply as she pounded the keyboard.
Kids seem to be naturally attracted to computers, smartphones, iPads, etc. That’s not too surprising given the buttons, bright colors, apps, pictures, and quick response. Unlike many of us older adults, who grew up with pencils, typewriters, and board games, kids are not intimidated by today's new technology. Digital tools are natural to them, like trees, grass, and blue skies.
Toddlers adapt quickly to these innovations. According to Common Sense Media, 38 percent of kids under 2 years of age now use smartphones or iPads. Those numbers are no doubt going to rise. The question seems to be, is this introduction or use of these tech tools to such young kids good or bad?
My response to that question is like my response to most dilemmas, BALANCE is everything! But let’s get into a couple of the pluses and minuses of tech familiar toddlers.
Minus: Since it is great pacifier, you mustn’t ever let it get in the way of reading books to them, taking walks, playing with trucks, dolls and building blocks. And don't forget to interact with other kids!
As they get older, exposure to digital technology can result in an increase of multitasking skills, complex reasoning and decision-making. Subjects like science and math are no longer boring as they become visual accompanied by interesting challenges, puzzles and spotting games. No longer do kids need to lug heavy bags with books to school. And yes, new interactive technologies make learning fun!
However, parents should set up guidelines for times to use technology and tech-free times when kids are older. Consider granting tech usage only when physical activity has been completed or only after good grades have been achieved. This will be tough because the technology of today will not seem to be a luxury to them. However, they won’t miss anything because unlike the old days of TV and radio, everything is available on demand!
You must protect your children. They can find their way into an online chat room with strangers or click on an enticing ad that links to inappropriate content. Monitoring your child’s online activities is time-consuming, but absolutely necessary! Keep their laptops in a public area of the house.
It's your call
You will find experts that will tell you to minimize tech usage for young children and others that will tell you it will be an advantage if controlled. I tend to agree with the latter, but it is up to you. Balance in all things is as important in raising kids as it is on a tightrope.