My Top 4 Tips For Modern Parents
This is the modern parents’ dilemma. On one hand you want your child to use technology. You know it’s here to stay. The iPad won’t be un-invented. But on the other hand you have niggling doubts about whether technology is possibly harmful.
Being a modern parent isn’t easy. But I’m here to help. I want to dispel some of the popular myths and misconceptions about young children and technology. Because the reality is that you don’t need to feel guilty or concerned about young children using technology.
So what essential information do parents really need to know so that they feel confident about handing over gadgets to their children or switching on the TV?
1. Don’t focus on how much
For too long, the focus has been on ‘screen-time limits’. We’ve focused on ‘restricting’ children’s screen-time. And it is important to monitor screen-time to some extent. [Excessive screen-time is certainly not healthy.]
However, we miss a really critical factor if we simply focus on ‘how much’. What a child watches is by far more important. Content is critical. Is the video game age-appropriate? Is the TV show well-designed? Does the app encourage critical thinking?
You see, what matters so much more than how much.
2. Co-viewing helps your child learn
Using media, whether it be playing a video game or watching TV with your child, has been shown to have positive effects on a child’s learning, especially their language skills. Now I acknowledge that it’s not always possible. But when it is, really try and seize the moment and interact with your children when they are using technology. It stops them from becoming a ‘digital zombie’.
3. Screens are not toxic
When designed appropriately and used intentionally, technology can actually help children learn. We’ve got lots of research evidence that confirms this. Technology can spark new ideas, provide children with access to new worlds and open up conversations not possible without technology. TV shows can encourage new forms of play and apps can show children really abstract concepts in a really clear way [Check out The Human Body app as an example].
Technology really can enhance learning!
4. When children use technology is critical
We now have research evidence to suggest that screen-time in the 90 minutes before bed has an adverse effect on children’s sleep patterns (and adults too). The brain needs screen-free time before bed. We also know that rapid-fire, fast-paced screen action before school has an adverse effect on children’s capacity to learn in a classroom. So be mindful about when you allow your child to use technology.
So breathe a sigh of relief. You are not necessarily harming your child if you hand them an iPad or allow them to watch TV. You just need to make some informed choices about how and when you’ll use it.