When is the right age to introduce children to technology? Do we embrace the new and go with the flow or should we hold off as long as possible? It’s a subject that most parents have an opinion.
As a parent to older children I can see how technology can enrich the lives of the young. Be it helping to answer the barrage of questions they have by consulting Google, to keeping them safe when they’re out and about. But I’ve also seen how utterly annoying it can be, there’s the days when the sky is blue and instead of being out in the sun, climbing trees and playing out, they prefer to be glued to their xboxes or internet, leading to various amounts of coercion & threat to prise them away.
The default wind down time in our house is no longer the TV, instead it’s playing GTA 5 with your mates online, messaging of Facebook or watching endless YouTube videos. There are times when everyone is sitting in the same room yet locked inside their own virtual world.
I hate those times the most.
But how do I enforce social family time while I myself, the blogging mum, spends so much time on my iPhone or the laptop. There comes a point when “do as I say not as I do” doesn’t work. I argue that my time buried into the laptop is work, yet who’s to argue that it’s not as enriching for Tweens and Teenagers? They’re interacting, problem solving, using fine motor skills and even reading. If play is child’s work, then can the same be said of screen time?
and how is that different to days gone by when we’d all sit down as a family and watch the TV?
Surely there’s more interaction going on now than there was back then? But what about toddlers and technology? At what age is it acceptable for a toddler to use an iPad?
It amazes me when I see them swiping and tapping away, playing games and watching movies like it’s the most natural thing ever, yet I’ve had to show my older relatives time and time again how to use their phone or a tablet, proving how a young child’s brain is like a sponge, soaking up the surroundings of every day activities going on around them, processing and mimicking as they role play what they see.
My own Baby R has a strange fascination with my iPhone. Most of the time he just sticks it in his mouth but recently I caught him looking at the screen and tapping like he knew what to do. And he should. I’m always using it to check emails, the weather or Twitter in front of him. My blog was created during all the hours I spent sat breastfeeding, restless to be doing something during the many feeding sessions. However hard I try not to let the internet world take precedence over my baby, there are occasions when I’ve had to answer emails before we’ve left the house or I’ve got a blog post idea I need to save before it disappears into the great unknown of Mum’s busy brain.
I’m ashamed to admit that in the past there were times when I’d see a toddler with an iPad in a restaurant and wonder why their parents hadn’t brought a book or weren’t making the most of the free crayons and then I had my own toddler. I now look longingly at the family sitting down, enjoying their meal without distraction as their little one sits happily glued to the screen while my husband and I play tag parenting, taking it in turns to pace the floor and entertain the boddler who’s too young for the distraction of Peppa Pig apps and CBeebies games, whilst eating our food at lightening speed and apologising profusely for all the mess as we settle our bill.
So is letting your toddler use technology cheating or embracing the future? Should screen time be saved for a time when their minds are less delicate? I’m still undecided.
I guess there comes a point when we have to accept that what we enjoyed as a child was fine for us in the past but this is the here and now and new technology isn’t always the enemy. There’s a time and place for change and everything in moderation. But technology for toddlers, mmmm, I don’t know. That developing brain needs the interaction that only other humans and face to face can provide, so I’ll be delaying the distraction of the internet and TV for a little while yet, even if that means a few extra rounds of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on every car journey and the indigestion laden, speed, eating meals.
As I know that once we go down that road there’s no going back.
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