By Kari Jenkins
In 2017, about 42 percent of American children aged 0 to 8 already have their own tablets according to a recent study. The research also claimed that these kids spend an average of at least two hours a day glued to their screen. While gadget use for young children remains a controversial issue, using technology can still help them learn important life skills like learning a second language or reaching their milestones in advance if you know how to do it properly. For parents who allow their kids to have their own gadgets, here are some ways that could teach them to use technology to their advantage.
It is becoming common to see parents bonding with their young ones while using their smartphones or tablets. You can find fathers spending time with their kids to teach them how to play a mobile game or mothers watching videos of nursery rhymes with their babies anywhere. But experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics released a guideline regarding gadget use for young children that parents need to follow. Under the guideline, 18 months and younger must avoid using any types of screen gadgets except during video calls. If your kid is more than 18 months already, parents can already introduce technology by letting them watch educational programs. However, it is ideal to limit their screen usage to 1 hour per day and join them as they watch their favorite shows to help them understand what the show is all about. This can be a good bonding experience for both parents and child. Even fathers can use this as an opportunity to spend more time with their children while teaching them various lessons from the show or video game that they are playing on the gadget, including math skills, problem solving, or even learning a new language. While using gadgets can definitely keep young children stay still on the seats, parents must also refrain from allowing them to tablets or mobile phones just because they are bored. Children need to know how to handle their strong emotions even without the use of technology. To address their tantrums, moms and dads must look for other ways to solve the problem such as encouraging children to interact with others, play games, read a book, or solve age-appropriate puzzles.
Young children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, learn more when involved in a two-way communication. Talking to them is very crucial for their language development. If a parent will be away from home for a while, or if their grandparents or other family members live far away, they can use technology to stay close and communicate one-on-one through video calls. It can also help in teaching them different languages if their relatives live in a different country. Aside from making communication easier, it will also strengthen the bond between kids and the rest of their family.
Gadgets are a very powerful tool, which is why parents must make sure that it will complement their parenting style as well as their family values.
To maximize the use of technology at home, moms and dads must come up with a specific gadget use plan that must be implemented properly.
It should mention the screen-free zones at home, how long will they allow their kids to use the gadgets, as well as the kind of shows and games that they can watch.
The plan must also include the type of apps that children could download on their gadgets. There are lots of apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play that are advertised as educational or kid-friendly, but they can be misleading. To confirm if the apps are really made to teach young children, parents need to spend time in researching about the apps thoroughly.
Kids often mirror their parents' behavior. So if they see their mom or dad glued on their device for a long period of time, they will think that it is the norm. So if they want the children to limit their gadget use, parents should also lessen their hours on the screen as well. Because technology is already a huge part of everyone's life, parents need to learn how to use it properly in order to reap all its positive benefits. When used moderately, parents will no longer worry about the adverse effects of gadgets on their young children.