With all the apps geared towards entertaining and educating babies in the market today, it is a rare situation that your baby or toddler hasn't at least held a tablet or smartphone. You read him interactive bedtime stories with it. You've used it to keep him on his high chair. It's probably your teaching tool when he starts on his ABCs and 123s. Technology can very much be a heaven-sent tool for parents.
Yet technology can be a double-edged sword. Until recently when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a revised guidelines on kids and screens, it was highly recommended that smartphones and tablets be banned from children before they reach age two--and with valid reason, too.
In the Huffpost blog entry "10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned For Children Under The Age of 12," pediatric occupational therapist Cris Rowan lists the reasons and studies that show how smartphones and tablets can hinder a child's overall development. Overexposure to technological devices can be cause for cognitive delays, and abuse of technology use has been also linked to obesity, sleep deprivation, mental illness and aggression, to name a few.
The reality, however, is it’s nearly impossible to completely ban electronic gadgets. BUT, you, mom and dad, need to be firm and consistent about the allowable limits for your child. We believe technology can work to your and your child's advantage, and other parents have managed that balance. Here's how:
1 Set an example Kids want to be part of anything they see their parents do. It is why being a role model is crucial. “If you’re always on your phone, then they’d think that’s okay. If they see you unplug, they will realize the value of having without gadgets, too,” advises Sue Espiritu, account manager and mom of two.
2 Use handheld devices with your kids Interactive apps, when used by parents to engage a child, can be helpful. “I make sure when my toddler and I do tablet time, I talk to him and play with him. You have to be firm with rules, because they can really test your patience when they demand for it,” says mom-of-one Alessa Santos.
3 Support school-initiated technology As early as elementary, many schools and teachers already incorporate technology in form of visual aid presentations, videos, and interactive educational games, to further explain lessons to kids. “My son’s school uses both tablets and books, as well as emails and groups messaging. It can be good for kids when used wisely,” Rudy Natividad, dad of three, says.
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4 Show it as a tool to stay in touch with family and friends. Think of OFW parents, weekend parents (those who don’t live with their kids), grandparents, relatives who are far away from home. Social media can be tricky, but you cannot deny that when used positively, it can grow relationships stronger. Mom-of-two Bernice Lazona said she gave her eldest son a phone when he started high school "to know where is or what he needs when I’m still at work."
5 It can help improve oneself. That is, if used properly and in moderation. We do live in a digital era, but that doesn’t mean that actual non-screen experiences have lost its worth. Technology can provide convenience, but it should not take control of our lives. The AAP’s new guidelines state that kids will make mistakes using media, but “these can be teachable moments if handled with empathy.” Instead of banning gadgets at home, don’t you think it’s better to teach growing kids how to use them properly?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.