While shielding technology away from your children is nearly inevitable, it is then important that you introduce it to your little ones the correct way.
There is no denying – it is a technology-driven world that we are living in. From the latest gadgets to the most-bought applications, children (of almost all ages) know it all. Being a 90s kid, I remember quite well how my brothers leaped with joy when they received their first
gadget – a pager when they were in secondary school. But of course, there was no technology pressure to keep up with back then. Today is a different story though.
The Ideal Age Debate
Is there an ideal age for when I should introduce technology to my child? This question is on the minds of most parents. Even though there is no right or wrong answer for when kids should dip a toe into the digital pond, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time at all for children under the age of two. The AAP adds that older children should not engage in entertainment media for more than one to two hours per day.
Agreeing with the AAP’s recommendation is Poh Yeang Cherng, director of Kingmaker Consultancy – a company that specialises in media literacy and cyber wellness. “I did not allow my child to touch the computer until she turned three years old. I’ve spent a lot of time encouraging my child to read books and she’s grown up to love reading. It’s not hard to keep technology away from your little ones if parents can control and set the environment right from the first child.”
Concurringly, Pamela See, Educational and Developmental psychologist from Th!nk Psychological Services shares that allowing your child to jump on the technology bandwagon too early may impede and restrict appropriate social skills development of your young one. “When a child starts using technological devices too early, this would mean that they would have less opportunity to enhance other areas that are more important to a developing child, such as social interactions, outdoor play and language.”
Ways to Introduce Technology
Before giving that iPad to your child, do consider what your child is using the technology for and if it is necessary for him to be using it. This is an important factor as you do not want to give your child the impression that he can always use the iPad or any other gadget whenever he feels like it.
According to Pamela, the best way to introduce technology to kids is to use it as a form of interaction with the child. “If the gadget is being used for educational reasons, parents should teach them to use the technology as an aid, and not just leave the child to click and guess answers from an educational programme. Alternatively, it could be used to play a two-player game with the child, therefore incorporating some social aspects to it.”
On the other hand, Yeang Cherng advises parents to consider doing up a media plan on how you would like to introduce your kids to technology at different stages. The idea of having a media plan is directed to your child’s wellness, and doing so would enable your kid to not be forced into peer pressure of wanting the same gadgets that their friends have.
Managing Screen Time
The key to harnessing technology the right way in your child is to set a fixed screen time. While the amount of screen time varies from parent to parent, Yeang Cherng shares that as long as you are limiting screen time, you are taking the first step towards mediating and balancing the usage of technology for your child.
Adding on, Pamela says, “A child should never be given unlimited access to technology or the Internet. The more time the child spends on technology, the less social interaction they have with their family and peers. This could lead to isolating behaviour and less time to learn how to interact with other people. It is important to use it in moderation.”
- Avoid using technology during meal times.
This is a good time for interaction with the family.
- Avoid using technology as a baby-sitter.
Do not use technology to keep the child quiet so you can shop in peace, as you are preventing the child an opportunity to learn how to self-regulate this way.
- Avoid giving access of technology freely to the child.
They should always be closely monitored and time spent on it should always be limited.
As much as technology is wonderful when used in an appropriate way, it is also a double-edged sword that can cause harm when used wrongly. So be sure to always be on track to ensure your child is getting just enough screen time.