It is nearly impossible to avoid technology at home today. Devices like iPads, iPhones, e-readers, and handheld gaming units are commonly found in almost every family. These devices have become an important tool for organization and a great way to find centralized entertainment. But are they good for kids?
Today's parents face the difficult task of choosing what kind of technology they should introduce their children to at certain ages. Researchers and child psychologists disagree about the effects of technology on a child's development, which only makes a parent's job more difficult.
Communication, Social Skills, and Brain Development
Some child experts support the use of computers, cell phones, and video games for kids from an early age. The technology allows kids to explore relationships with others in a safer environment so that they can decide who they really want to be. Other experts warn that too much exposure to technology has actually changed the brain chemistry of children today compared to children from previous decades.
Psychologists are concerned that interacting too often with a screen and text rather than interacting with live individuals can cause children to have trouble developing healthy communication skills. There is also concern that social networking sites limit a child's development of empathy for others because the child never actually sees the consequences of mean comments or behavior.
Respect is Key to Successful Monitoring
Social networks can be a good way for kids to learn some communication skills. The important thing for parents is to stay in the loop. Be aware of what your child is posting and reading on a regular basis. Remind them that it's your job to make sure they are safe and appropriate because you are ultimately responsible for the things being done online at your house. Give them fair warning before you look at their site for the first time so that they have a chance to clean it up if they need to. Once you have access, visit the site a few times a week to keep an eye on things.
How Much Technology is Too Much?
Kids need a chance to acclimate to technology because it will be such a large part of their adult lives. Parents should be careful about how much technology kids are exposed to on a regular basis, though. Limit computer and video game time to a few hours each day. Don't put a television in your child's room. If your child has a smart phone, create specific times of the day when the phone is off limits, like during meals.
Educational Apps can be Beneficial
Even the youngest children respond favorably to technology. Toddlers and pre-schoolers can manipulate touch screen devices successfully, and there are certain apps that help teach younger kids fine motor skills. Older kids can enhance their reading skills by playing games that include text. School age children can download apps to help with everything from spelling to algebra. As long as technology is seen as a tool that can be used for a specific purpose rather than something to indiscriminately take up large blocks of time it can be beneficial for children of all ages.
This parenting advice comes from NannyBackgroundCheck.com, a site where parents can check on a nanny before hiring to be sure the caregiver is a safe choice.