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  • Writer's pictureJunior Oliveira

Being purposeful about your young child's use of technology: 5 tips

Updated: Apr 30

Hi everyone,

We're almost halfway through 2024, and it's clear that we're not merely experiencing waves of technological change; we're in the midst of a tsunami called AI, which has rapidly become a mainstream concept. As parents, it's time for us to confront this technological beast and accept that it's here to stay. Technology is increasingly becoming an integral part of our culture as adults and is also becoming ever more present in our children's lives.

Is this development beneficial?

Many parents, myself included, often ponder this question. As a parent of a young child, I believe it depends on several factors. For instance, when my son was a toddler, he was able to learn to spell and pronounce phonics words thanks to a tablet game called "Bubble Phonics". This indicates that when used correctly, technology can yield positive outcomes. However, I am quite restrictive with some uses, for example, interactive social media platforms and certain video games.

The key is to be purposeful about how our children use technology. It's essential to monitor and guide their interactions with digital devices to ensure they are gaining valuable skills and knowledge without being overwhelmed or negatively influenced. By engaging with our children and making informed choices about the technology they use, we can help them reap the benefits while minimizing the risks.

There are many myths about technology and children that have disrupted all the ideas and mindsets discussed by our parents. For instance, a recent study (link) pointed out that video games can boost children's cognitive capabilities (by the way, I am not confirming this; I am just presenting this as an outcome of a study). There are many factors to consider when we reflect on childhood. Thus, the point is: having more intelligent children sounds great, but what about their happiness, mental, and physical health?

As parents, it's our duty to provide our children with digital access to enhance their learning while also balancing the benefits and potential negative effects of technology. Proactively introducing your child to technology in a thoughtful and balanced way can help them develop a healthy relationship with digital tools as they mature. Here are some tips to consider:

Leverage educational apps: Enhance screen time by using educational apps tailored to your child's developmental stage. Choose apps with interactive and engaging content that promotes cognitive skills like math puzzles and alphabet games, as well as physical activity, transforming devices into valuable learning tools.

Integrate technology in bonding activities: Use technology to create meaningful bonding experiences. Engage in activities such as exploring educational websites together or learning digital skills like coding or animation. Participating in creative projects or following online tutorials for drawing or painting can also enhance learning and strengthen your relationship.

Teach online safety early: Start conversations about online safety early, focusing on privacy, responsible behaviour, and the dangers of sharing personal information. Utilize age-appropriate online resources and videos to help explain these concepts, and maintain a vigilant presence during their online activities to ensure their understanding and safety. Do not delegate this responsibility to others.

Model good screen time habits: Set a positive example with your own screen time habits. Establish and maintain healthy routines, such as specific times for device use, tech-free zones, and prioritizing in-person interactions. Discuss the importance of balancing screen time with other activities to help your children understand and mimic responsible technology use.

Value traditional activities: While technology offers many educational benefits, it's crucial not to overlook the value of traditional analogue activities. Activities like drawing with paper and pen, building with physical blocks, exploring nature, and reading physical books provide critical developmental benefits that digital tools cannot replicate.

Balancing digital and analogue activities ensures that children benefit from the advancements in technology while still engaging with the physical world to develop a well-rounded skill set. Also, consider how you can be purposeful when you access technology at home. An important consideration is how you will manage your own screen time. It's likely that you might also be overusing screens. Determine a healthy amount of screen time for yourself and think about ways to limit it. Consider adopting this approach together with your children, engaging in activities like playing, talking, and cooking to create shared experiences.

I hope you found this article on children and technology insightful. Please share it and support our cause. Thanks for reading this post : )

Dr Junior Oliveira

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