Technology and Children – Some thoughts

My how things have changed and how rapidly they are changing. When my children were little, we had a computer and I was amazed at how quickly and accurately they could use a mouse, even at age three. As much fun as they had on the computer, I only let them use it for educational games and we had strict limits on “screen time” both for the computer and for TV. I home schooled my children and we had a lot of time outside to explore and play and we spent parts of each day reading and enjoying music.

Fast forward to today’s world. Today, laptops, iPads, iPods, Smart Phones, digital books and more abound. Keeping my 11 year old away from the screen takes a real effort. Part of her school day is spent doing math on a computer and she loves to use my iPad after school to draw. So, the question for me as a parent is, is this actually safe for her? Are there any dangers in all of this exposure to “screens?” How young is too young? I’ve seen eBooks for babies…can that be a good thing? Yes, it is cool and on the cutting edge but what do the experts say?

I found an interesting article on this very topic and you can read the whole thing here. Below is an excerpt from the article:

“The question for parents should be not how much screen time you should allow your kids, but how old they should be when you can introduce it to them at all. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no screen time for children under two, and no child of any age should have a TV in their bedroom. Brain research and a host of child experts actually suggest no screen time until at least age 7 or 8, at which time the left and right hemispheres of the brain are fully connected. This ‘neural plasticity’ at a young age means that the habits of the mind may quite literally become structures in the brain. There also appears to be critical ‘sensitive’ periods in the course of development when certain neuron groups become particularly amenable to stimulation. If sufficient mental exercise is lacking, the related ability may be permanently degraded. Child development experts such as Kim John Payne has shown that media ravaged American children have become as stressed out and disconnected as children raised in war torn Bosnia. The consensus is simply that it is better to put a young child on the floor to play with a couple wooden spoons than to put them in front of a so-called ‘educational’ video.”

Rather than jump on the bandwagon and assume that ebooks are good for babies and that computer time will benefit your three year old, it may be helpful to do some research and make an informed decision.

There is nothing like a good book, crayons and paper, or a drum and mallet. In my opinion, “old fashioned” fun with your young child is the way to go!

Robin Keehn
Director of Development
Education Council
Simply Music International
(360) 477 0002

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