As tablet computers and mobile devices become more and more commonplace, it’s raising an increasing number of questions. Children have access to these smartphones and mobile devices like never before. But is it good for them? Should your toddler be playing Angry Birds on Dad’s iPad?
Many wonder how to best regulate our kids’ usage of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices. We’re only just beginning to understand how developing children truly interact with the dynamic applications that are available today. Still, it’s widely agreed that the individual approach is the best way to go.
The leading early childhood development experts agree that every child and every situation will be unique. As such, it’s smart to simply pay attention to your kids and monitor the way they’re using their iPads, Microsoft Surface tablets or Android touch-screen devices.
The Three C’s: Content, Context, Child
Lisa Guernsey is the author of a book called Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child, so she’s something of an expert on this very subject. She advises a very sensible approach, one that stresses a direct connection with your child and the media that they’re engaging.
The content, of course is always important. Today’s mobile devices link us to the entire Internet, so it’s important to be aware of what your child or toddler is accessing as he or she uses the family’s iPad.
But the good news is that it’s pretty easy to make sure that your children aren’t using inappropriate applications or programs.
Parents also need to keep tablet PCs from overwhelming their child. Avoid apps and games that feature an overload of frenetic or excessive visual stimulation.
Also important to your child’s experience with tablets and mobile technology is the context. Guernsey elaborates:
” The context, how we actually engage with our children around the media and how it fits into their day, that really matters.”
It’s good to set boundaries in this way, too, so that your child isn’t simply sitting with eyes glued to a screen for hours on end.
Finally, the child is an incredibly important part of the equation. Obviously, each child is unique and different — this means that there’s really no way to generalize, when it comes to an issue like this one.
Each child and each situation will be different. For this reason, be attentive and consistent in the way that you monitor and regulate your child’s use of the family tablet computer.
iPads: Not Just a Distraction
Still, it’s important that children are able to familiarize themselves with today’s technology, which is becoming less about entertainment and more about utility. These devices are tools that we use on a regular basis in our schools and our jobs.
As such, it can be seriously helpful for a child to be able to “speak the language” of both Android and Apple from a relatively early age.
As with any form of media, though, it’s important to make sure you pay attention to your child’s interactive media. Be attentive, and make sure you keep influences positive and appropriate. Avoid unnecessary violence and overly intense visual stimulation.
Giving your kids access to this emerging mobile technology does empower them, set them up for success in the world, and give them considerable advantages as these tools become more and more commonplace.
Tell us, how do you manage your child’s mobile device usage? Share your digital parenting stories in the comments.
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