Technology has become somewhat an indispensable part of life. While parents cannot insulate their kids from using electronic gadgets, it is their responsibility to make sure that children learn its responsible use. But the question really is: When should you start exposing your children to technology?
Children are tactile. They, instinctively, will reach out for anything. Since electronic gadgets are engaging, kids will zero in on them and insist to get their hands on them without too much prodding. This is where parenting comes in. According to experts, parents should wait until at least the preschool age of 3 or 4 before introducing kids to technology. Children under two years old should be exposed to real-world experiences and interactions first. They learn best this way so parents should make it a point to give their kids opportunities to explore their environment using their senses before doing the easier thing which is to prop them up in a corner in front of a screen-based device. Once they reach 3 or 4, kids are already capable of understanding content with context. This is when you can start exposing your kids to technology by watching educational videos on your computer or tablet. These videos are highly interactive and they use images and sounds that capture the attention of the little ones. Children can already be exposed to light educational stuff such as the alphabet, letters, and numbers by watching this kind of videos.
There sure is no way that you can keep on checking what your children are doing when they use technology. Experts recommend that parents wean on hovering around children using electronic gadgets at around 11 and by the age of 13, allow unsupervised use. However, it is important to make them understand that they have to earn such freedom. Have they consistently been responsible in using social media? Do they have enough time to do school work without gadgets getting in the way? Is the content that they are accessing appropriate for their age? These are things that you have to discuss with them. Set a clear boundary and give appropriate consequences once children cross that line. Make it clear that it is a huge responsibility to use technology and that they must learn to consistently follow through even without your supervision.
Here are some recommendations where screen time is concerned.
· Not more than half an hour for a four to five year old
· Not more than an hour for a six to seven year old
· Not more than two hours for older children
Parental Guidance Should Continue
While supervision will wean as kids grow older, guidance is essential for them to build healthy habits when using technology. Parents should regularly monitor their kids’ activities when they use their gadgets. TVs and computers should be in common areas. And remember, nothing trumps real world exploration and interaction. Do not let your children be slaves to technology. Give them more opportunities to read actual books, explore their surroundings, and build real life social networks. There should be a time for real life experiences and a time for technology. It is up to the parents to strike that balance. (By Lea Sicat Reyes)