Technology and Kids; a User’s Manual for Parents
Computers and mobile devices are now present in almost every household. When it comes to kids, parents may have ambivalent opinions about the advantages or problems caused by the extensive use of technology. That’s why I thought that sharing my opinion with you might be interesting, at least for those of you who pose this kind of question.
Educational apps and websites can be a great way to learn science, math, or even languages. There are many kinds of free interactive games and videos. When my children were growing up, they familiarized themselves very early with the mouse and touch screens.
I used to download these kinds of apps directly on their tablets. I reckon that smaller screens (e.g., cell phones) are harder to read. The accessibility of some games, especially those dedicated to creative drawing or coloring, was harder to achieve. When they were very young, Wi-Fi was not enabled to avoid them surfing the net.
Lately, there has been a rising need for educational platforms to meet the demand for online classes. Through these platforms, teachers can even interact with the students through videoconferencing systems and chats.
I am undoubtedly a big fan of video games, so I completely understand why children and teenagers love to play with their consoles. Having said that, the problem always lies in the number of hours that children play each day. Sitting directly in front of a screen for four or even five hours every single day can cause several serious poor health problems, such as eye fatigue, lack of physical exercise, and some degree of nervous strain.
Also, in extreme circumstances, some children may develop an addiction to video games. This disorder may cause some degree of detachment from reality, lesser social interaction, and poor performance at school. Computer game addiction is a serious matter. Suppose you think that your child may be at risk. In that case, it’s always a good idea to ask for professional advice before the situation eventually gets worse.
Even if I have a passion for technology myself (that I most certainly passed on to my kids), I have always thought that what they see and learn on a screen should also be experienced wherever possible, in real life.
For example, suppose you are thinking of planning a trip to the zoo. In that case, you can encourage the children to learn a bit more about the species they will see by watching a series of documentaries or playing educational games. Once they arrive at the zoo, they will be thrilled to have some “previous knowledge” about the animals. And don’t be surprised if, in the end, they teach you something!
I’d like to stress that, when you talk about kids, it’s wrong to generalize. Some need more guidance than others. Others are more naturally interested in sports or outdoor activities. It will be easier to distract them from the screens. Some children may need more attention, especially if their favorite hobby is playing video games. In this case, you should probably try to get them involved in other kinds of activities. Most importantly, under no circumstances should computers, tablets, and cell phones be used as baby sitters!
I believe that technology can have a positive impact on a child’s life, given that parents can keep control of their activity online and offline. My younger son loves to watch videos on his iPad. Believe it or not, he has learned a second language just by watching documentaries and YouTubers. He just loves the sound of Italian. All I had to do was to help him to search for the right content online. Now he’s nine, and he is totally bilingual. I’m serious. Isn’t that amazing?