We currently live in a technology-driven world. Everything that we do is likely to be related to tech in one way or another. Even the basic things people have done for decades, like going to the bank or going grocery shopping, can be accomplished by using mobile apps or websites from the comfort of your home. Adults utilizing technology with the cognitive functioning that they have developed throughout life is one thing, but introducing technology to a child who isn’t so equipped is another.
During the COVID-19 pandemic especially, there’s been a resurgence in the debate among parents asking if our kids really need to be introduced to this technology at such a young age. There are two sides to this story: those who want their children to enjoy games and have safe distractions similar to those they enjoyed as children, and those who think that they are simply too young to be handed those types of devices.
Just like anything else in life, it isn’t as black and white of an issue as many make it out to be. Finding balance is a great way to ensure your child is safe, their development is functional, and they are still able to enjoy some mindless entertainment now and again. Technology has its own unique set of pros and cons. For example, currently, we count on kids smart watches that have access to 4G GPS, video calls and texting. You should let your kid discover and use these devices with your supervision to see which combination makes the most sense for your home. After all, the technological revolution isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, so you should be able to teach your little one how to use technology correctly and safely at some point or another.
This article is not meant to advise you on when is or is not the appropriate time to introduce your kids to technology. Instead, it is a list of tips on how to safely introduce your child to technology when that time does come.
Independent Exploration is Important
Yes, you read that correctly. That is not to say that you should just hand kids a smart device, such as an iPhone or an iPad and then go to another room. You should absolutely monitor and teach your child how to safely navigate the world of technology before doing anything else. However, once you have established instructions and guidelines, it is important to give your child the opportunity to explore independently. In fact, experts agree that the ability to navigate their curiosity is important to ensure that your child understands the world around them.
You can start by giving your children fun devices such as waterproof smart watches to enjoy in the pool or even a cell phone watch that they can carry around with them. Kids will be curious. It’s up to the parents to ensure that they are set up for success when it comes to exploring that curiosity.
Technology is Not a Babysitter
As we stated earlier, you should not equate introducing your child to technology to getting free babysitting for the rest of their life. Other key areas of development are equally important to their ability to thrive into adulthood, such as socializing, traditional play time, education, and exercise. Apart from the obvious reasons that you need to create opportunities for your child to put down their iPad, it has been proven to reduce their risk of anxiety and help them develop better social skills. So, for the sake of their health, don’t just hand a child your phone and call it a day.
Whether it’s the new age of iPads and iPhones or the time of TVs before that, boundaries create a healthy relationship with the technology that surrounds us. As the parent, you should always remember to reinforce that technology time is a privilege and not a right. By setting limits for children to follow, you can help them understand that the right to continue to use their favorite apps or play new games only comes as a result of following these rules. Whether that means no electronics at the table, or day trips where you leave the devices at home, finding a proper balance that works for your child will help them avoid becoming unable to function without a screen to stare at.
Consider Introductory or Child-Specific Technology
Just like adults, children can be trendy beings. That means that they are going to default to a desire to own the devices that their friends have. This usually includes such staple items as tablets, smart TVs, and even smartphones. However, whether it is due to an instinctive anxiety about the dangers of the world wide web or just a desire to keep your child’s innocence a bit longer, there are child-specific smart devices on the market that make for good alternatives. Many of them feature the more desirable features such as GPS tracking and video calling without the added dangers of an app store or social media.
Nowadays, there are options like a kid’s video call watch where they can still connect with their friends and family without the hazard of an actual phone. It’s all about finding the right option for you and your family’s needs. Don’t be afraid to start with baby steps.
At the end of the day, your child will have to be introduced to technology at some point or another to be able to function in the modern age. However, with these tips in mind, you can feel much more comfortable during the introductory process.