How to Teach Your Child to Use Electronic Devices Wisely

Children are prone to excessive use of electronic devices. If you have children, you might give them your smartphone or tablet to play with as an award for good behaviour or because you need a moment to relax. Children acquire and absorb new content quickly, which changes their habits.

Flicking between content means that they are not focused on anything for an extended period of time. Recent studies have shown that almost 50% school-age children spend about three hours a day using smartphones or tablets. [1] Some experts claim that by the age of two children shouldn’t have had any contact with technology at all.

Using smartphones and tablets has its advantages

Electronic devices are not entirely bad for children. They encourage young people to use their imagination, support their learning and, of course, entertain. Studies have shown that they also make children more perceptive and help them cope with new situations. The use of smartphones and tablets may also improve kids’ manual skills and serve as a good exercise for the memory.

Beware of the risks

An electronic device can easily become the favourite toy for a child, especially when it compensates the lack of time spent with parents. Children are attracted by a flickering screen, plenty of colours and interesting pictures, which act as subliminal stimuli on the brain that may contribute to an addiction.

Gary Small, the author of “iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind”, claims that our brains are very sensitive to stimulation coming from mobile devices. Kids who spend more time with technology than with other people may have problems with developing communication skills and building deep relationships in adult life.

What can we do? Are there any solutions or alternatives?

I’ve prepared a few simple rules for parents and their children on how to use technology wisely:

  • Don’t use devices every day or in front of your children
  • Try to get through the first few years without turning to technology
  • No longer than 15 minutes at a sitting
  • No longer than 30 minutes per day
  • Never before bedtime
  • Check the content first (this is especially important when it comes to videos)
  • Offline use of mobile devices whenever possible

Walking the dog, playing board games, stacking blocks, drawing, reading books, and cooking are a few examples of activities which are better than playing with mobile devices: they are good for children’s health, they improve their creativity and they engage all five senses. For example, spending time with animals teaches children responsibility and empathy, and baking cookies with them improves your mutual relationship.

Some parents believe that the benefits of technology outweigh the detriments. In my opinion (and according to many scientists too), excessive use of smartphones and tablets should be disturbing and worrying. Schools can teach students to use technology more responsibly too. Children shouldn’t use their mobile phones at school so teachers take them away before the lessons start.

It’s a pity that it’s not like that in every school because without phones kids are more focused on studying and on themselves and instead of playing with their gadgets during a break, they actually talk and play with each other. We very much hope that it’s going to be a new trend.

We have to remember that electronic devices are designed not only for adults but also for kids. We don’t have to ban using them, all we should do is to keep the balance. When we take technology away from children completely, it becomes even more attractive and desirable for them. Children should be aware that they can’t use their gadgets all the time. Otherwise, they may quickly become addicted to the virtual reality.

Finally, we might wonder what the future of the mankind will be like considering that nowadays people can’t break away from their mobile phones or tablets already at an early age. Are toys like Mio Phone or iPotty a good idea?

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[1] A survey conducted by ComRes and Channel 4 News on 1056 British families.