How Young Is Too Young: Dealing with Children's Involvement in Tech

| September 1, 2021

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"In a new national survey conducted on the most current snapshot of technology by the Erikson Institute, whose sample was 1,000 American parents with children under age 6. 85 percent of parents reported that they allow their young children to use Technology.

More than half of the parents said they believe that Technology supports school readiness and impacts success in school, and 72 percent of parents had concerns about technology use, specifically around too much screen time, inappropriate content, commercial messages aimed at young children, and how technology use takes away from time spent outdoors, enjoying active play, and whether it disrupts sleep."

There is no denying the importance of technology, especially in a digital world like ours. While it is essential to encourage young people to get involved as early as possible, there are also valid concerns. We cannot toss aside the adverse effects this might have on them, like; exposure to cyberbullying and cybercrimes, exposure to explicit content, gadget addictions, social awkwardness, and affected sleep patterns.

A systematic review of the literature examining sleep patterns among school-aged children and adolescents found that the vast majority of the studies showed negative associations between screen time and sleep outcomes, such as delayed timing and shortened duration of sleep (Hale and Guan, 2015).

Introducing children to tech has many benefits, but these benefits do not override the disadvantages. Bearing this in mind, here are some ways to handle early exposure to tech:

  1. Parental Guidance: Like in every other area, parental guidance is essential as children navigate the internet or familiarise themselves with digital tools. As is often said, screen time does not necessarily mean alone time. Children are naturally curious, and it is vital to act as their guide to interacting with technology and digital tools.
  2. Take Advantage of Parental Control Tools: Parental controls are software and devices that allow parents to control their children's internet use. They are a great way of helping prevent children from accessing unsuitable content online. Parents can use parental control tools to monitor their children's internet use like bark, boomerang, Kaspersky, Family time, Studio, etc. It is essential, though, to respect the privacy of kids while at it.
  3. Educate them: While introducing kids to tech, it is crucial to educate them on the dangers of the internet, what to look out for, and what to avoid so they are aware of online scams and phishing attacks and can exercise necessary caution.
  4. Get Kid-Friendly Gadgets: It is advisable to start small using kid-friendly gadgets in introducing kids to tech. There are kid-friendly tabs, computers, and even phones. Some of these gadgets even come with educational resources.
  5. Teach them time management: Teach your kid's the importance of time management. Introduce them to the concept of scheduling and prioritising activities. These are skills they would need regarding handling technology and life skills that would always come in handy.
  6. Introduce them to online learning: This would help them make the most of their screen time. It would also enable them to channel their time and energy to something more productive. There are various programs that kids can enrol in to learn digital and tech skills.
  7. Encourage them to participate in Outdoor events: It is very tempting for kids to get really comfortable with their devices and staying indoors, which can affect social interaction and cause social awkwardness while they are with their peers. It is vital to encourage them to participate in outdoor events to maintain balance.
    1. It is undeniable that technology is a major avenue for learning and development in children. Hence, it is never too young to introduce children to tech. One significant advantage of early technology adoption is children are in their formative years, and technology can help widen their horizons and build their analytical skills.