Technology to an Advantage: Early Childhood Perspective

Pretty much every parent would have the same sentiments and questions. “Is iPad bad for my kid?”, “How long should I let my kid use the iPad?”, or “What negative impact would it have on my kid if I let him use his tablet for too long?”. Sharing a personal experience in one of our PTM sessions in schools, almost 80% of parents who attended asked me these questions. From how it sounded, the use of iPads or any tablet for that matter seemed to be reaping more harm and done. In the article below, we will talk about how to turn around these Technology related experiences into enriching and stimulating learning process.

The growing tree of Technology

The first thing that parents have to know is that they are in control of their children. This only means that they set the rules at home or outside, they set the routine, and they are in charge. The problem arises once the other way happens. For many reasons (excuses), parents give in to their children to avoid further conflict, tantrums, discussions, bantering, or maybe even to save time. What better way to direct children’s attention to any other thing is by the use of gadgets… right? Wrong. Parents are the primary caregivers of children. Interactions, and positive ones for that matter should come first and foremost from the parents. How they treat other people, and how they socialize in school or at the mall, are strongly influenced by the way parents interact with their kids. In this sense, how can children learn socialization if there are limited opportunities and experiences to build their knowledge on?

Let’s go back to the use of gadgets. How can a child experience first hand positive interactions, if the bulk of adult interaction he would have is with Siri? Hence, we should keep in mind, to keep into a minimum the time in using Technology. AAP suggested that children under two years of age should have 0 screen time, where as children from 3 years old onwards should be limited to only 2 hours a day. Similar to teaching, Technology is merely an aid to the instruction; teachers are still the main source and facilitator of the process. So as the parents.

Image grabbed from Google

Parents might ask, “My child is used to it, he cannot sleep or he gets cranky without his tab.” That statement is a sign of defeat. Children are built around routine. They do not have the sense of time, but unconsciously they learn what they need to do because of everyday activities. This shows that parents need to establish a routine that children need to follow. There is no better time to start one, than today. By squeezing various child related activities, children not only learn but they also create more meaningful memories with them.

By giving them more opportunities other than exploring the tablet’s contents, children become more capable and ready to take on other milestones.

If using gadgets in inevitable, parents should remember the following:

  1. Choice of app used is important
     — This means that parents should filter each app downloaded. Parents and even teachers should be able to access the app and ensure that it is child safe and would not have any negative effects. Some apps before downloading have their own rating and comments section. Parents can use this to their advantage.

Children develop rapidly from birth to 8 years of age.

2. Early years is the best time and prime time for your child to develop
 — Children are fast learners, they need time and exposure to activities that allow them to move around. They are also considered sensorial learners. This only means that they need to experience the process to fully absorb it. Although there are interactive apps, it only limits them to visual and auditory senses. 
3. Do not lose the interaction
 — Parents should use this opportunity to work on the app with the child. Go through what’s happening with your child, guide him as he finds his way through this application. Also, this ensures that you have chosen the right app for your kid.
4. Choose interactive apps over passive ones
 — Interactive applications mean that your child is able to contribute in the process. He is a participant and not just an audience. There are tons of apps that allow interaction.

In conclusion, apps are not bad or dangerous. It will only be so, if it replaces quality interactions with adult caregivers and peers. As saying goes, too much of something always reaps negativity. Parents have to balance screen time and personal interactions. After all, what we aspire our child to be is to become productive and sociable beings.