What age should you introduce children to technology?
When should you introduce electronic devices to your kids?
Is my child old enough for electronic devices? How do you know? What should they use?
These are questions parents ask themselves every day! And unfortunately, there isn’t just one simple answer to this question. For each family and child it is different.
It is not an easy question to answer
Children reach for their parents’ smartphones, iPads and tablets from the second they can grasp things in their tiny hands. Does this mean they should be introduced at such an early age?
My personal opinion is no. I believe that children should learn the basics like walking, talking and using a fork before introducing yet another thing for them to learn, to distract them, to prevent them from going outside and discovering the world.
In today’s society, it is only natural that kids want to play with electronic gadgets because they are everywhere they look. Parents take photos on their smartphones, check emails, the weather and so much more. That is even before you think about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and games.
A child should be encouraged to let their imagination flourish and I feel that by introducing the digital world to them prematurely, it could stunt their ability to interact with other children. As a result of isolating face to face interaction, this could potentially affect their development of social skills. In saying all of this, I don’t think it is all bad. There are benefits.... when the age is right.
How can devices be good for kids?
When these devices are applied in moderation in a way similar to TV, there are definite benefits. Families (mine included) that allow their children to watch TV, will know it is no secret that watching educational shows such as Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and even Super Why! can improve their child’s comprehension skills. It encourages them to get up and be interactive, answer the questions and count along.
Educational apps can be just as beneficial for a young child’s mental growth however, if parents aren’t monitoring the usage or allow them too young, it could have the opposite effect.
How can a parent monitor their child’s electronic device usage?
Depending on how old your child is will depend on how you can and should monitor what and how often they play.
It is not recommended that children under 2 have any screen time for the reasons I have mentioned above.
Young children – let’s say ages 2-5: it is a great idea to have your device (or theirs if they have their own) in a ‘Kid Mode’ if your child is using it. Regardless whether you use Samsung smartphones, android tablets or iPhone and iPads, all of these are equipped with the ability to turn on ‘Kids Mode’ or ‘Safe Mode’. This will restrict what apps, games, sites, etc. they can access and use. You should however continue to observe even when in these modes.
Time should be monitored for children this young, well it should be for all children to be honest. Children aged 2-5 years should have no more than 1 hour a day, if you feel they should have technology time.
Primary school children (aged 6-12) – I don’t know about every school but the public school my boys attend have got an iPad in every classroom for the children to use. For this reason I feel that the moment they start actively using these devices; parents must teach them how to be safe online.
This includes anything and everything ‘stranger danger’ related. It is important they understand that not everyone online is a bad person but that they could potentially not be who they say they are. They need to learn not to give ANY personal details out to anyone and not to talk to strangers online. This is even before we think about cyber bullying, credit cards and inappropriate websites (yet another great reason to have the devices in ‘Safe Mode’).
It is recommended that children of this age have only 1-2 hours of screen time a day.
What should parents be mindful of?
Children tend to mimic their parents so it is important to instil healthy screen habits as soon as your child begins to use technology. By restricting the duration and monitoring your child’s device use, it will lessen the risk of technology addiction as the child grows older. In addition to obsession, physical health can become a concern if children are spending too much time playing on tablets instead of getting outdoors and partaking in some physical activity.
Yes, technology is a huge part of our lives and it is common for kids to use it at school so preparing them over time for this by teaching them the skills required to use it wisely and time efficiently is a smart move by parents.
Age appropriate content is not always guaranteed when using the internet; we can only do so much to control what will show up in search engines. If you want to ensure your little ones don’t stumble upon anything by mistake, set kiddle.co as their search engine. It is a safe visual search engine designed for kids.
There is no magic number for when your children should be introduced to technology and gadgets but if you keep in mind the points mentioned here you can make an informed decision.
What age do you think children should be introduced to technology and devices?