Thoughts on kids and technology
Have you ever thought about what would happen if your internet connection at home went dark? Or if your phone’s navigation system stopped working in the middle of you using it?
I remember pretty well what it was like growing up without the internet, social media, or Netflix. The ’90s were a pretty great time to grow up, actually. We spent our childhood years mostly tech-free but were introduced to computers and the world wide web early enough to be "fluent" in technology. And while we can’t imagine living in a world without it, we are continuously cautioned and reminded about how important it is to set boundaries. In a time when heavy social media usage is linked to developing mental health issues, we need to start thinking about the next generation and what we can do to help our children develop a healthy relationship with technology.
There’s no denying it: iPad and co. can be incredibly helpful tools to keep your little one busy - especially while traveling or simply when you want to enjoy dinner with your partner or friends. There are amazing learning tools and platforms for kids of all ages and the benefits are plentiful. Plus, keeping your phone or other gadgets from your kid might be hard as they are such big parts of our lives and when we are seen using them frequently throughout the day, they will start becoming more and more interesting to your child as well. It is pretty safe to say that today’s children are beginning to become tech-experts at a very young age. Seeing my friend’s 2-year old handle her iPhone with such skill still leaves me stunned.
The early childhood years are the most critical in terms of brain development and experiences during those years will have lasting effects on children.
So, how do you go about introducing your kid to technology?
Here are a few simple and effective tips that everyone can integrate into their family life:
Be the role model: We all know too well how our actions directly affect our kids. They look at us, how we move, speak, act and it will stay with them. The amount of time spent on your phones doesn’t go unnoticed either and if you spend a lot of time using your phone or tablet, chances are you kid will start finding it pretty damn interesting, too. But what's wrong with all the great features our phones have to offer? The funny Snapchat filters, video calls and photos you can take? The answer is nothing - as long as you limit your time spent using the phone. Remember that you are your kid's role model and if you want your child to develop healthy screen time habits, you will have to do the same.
Try not to use your phone during dinner time - this is a pretty obvious one, yet it is hard to go through with. Sometimes we don’t even realize how big a part our phones play in our lives and leaving it in another room while you eat with your family will not only help your child but is also beneficial for you.
Only keep the TV on when you’re actually watching. Like the sound of background noise? Turn on the radio instead.
Turn to books. There is an abundance of incredible children’s books for kids of all ages and even if it’s easier to just hand them the iPad to play around with, reading to your child and discovering the colorful pages of a book together doesn’t just create positive memories, it also helps you bond with your little one.
In the end, it’s all about balance, right? We know that technology is only going to become a bigger part of our lives, which is why it’s so important to understand the impact it has on us and our society. And as much as we’re doing tech-breaks and limiting screen times for our kids, we’re doing it for ourselves.