Electronics and Kids - Good or Bad?

Parents today struggle with computers, phones, tablets and other electronics competing for their children’s attention. What is the right thing to do? Many argue that children have grown and learned for millennia without electronics and insist on an absolute ban. Other parents take the other side insisting that electronics give them, as parents, more free, quiet time while their children are absorbed and learning. And the majority of parents find themselves struggling somewhere in the middle trying to decide what is best. There is evidence on both sides of the fence for and against young children and electronics. It comes down to parents making the right choices for their families.

Are you a high-tech family?

Consider your home life. Are you and your partner both constantly checking your phones, gaming online or reading on your Kindle? Or are you a low-tech family with one, old computer and a cell phone the size of your head? Kids learn what they live with. A child living in a home with parents attached to electronic gear most of the time will want to learn what their parent are doing. They will mimic them as soon as they can, usually even before they can speak well. The kids living in the low-tech house will go along as well, skipping this specific mimicking.

Embrace Changes

Roman kids learned to read and write on wax tablets. Kids in medieval Europe used slate boards and chalk. A couple of hundred years later, kids had tablets of paper and pencils to use for their schoolwork. Imagine the ruckus the typewriter caused! And after that the adding machine, then the calculator. Every new advancement has brought pronouncements of the doom of the next generation. They will never learn to read, write, speak, etc. And, yet, the kids keep learning.

Electronics are a fact of life whether they are a part of your life or not. While there is no rush to teach kids computer skills, there is no real reason to delay either. As with everything else in life, balance is the key. The computer, phone, tablet should never replace interaction with parents or siblings for excessive amounts of time. Physical activity, especially physical activity outdoors is crucial as well. Just as you introduce pencils, crayons and paper, introduce electronics. No more and no less.

Put Electronics in Their Place

Work electronics in as they fit with your life. If they are a big part of life in your house, you really have no choice. Opt to make tablets or computers no big deal, no more than any other toy or book in your home. Most kids will indulge for a week or two but if you ignore it, the computer/tablet will be no more or less interesting than any other toy in your home. If you do not have much technology in your home, let the kids play a game or look up a topic of interest when you visit the library just to get them familiar with how to use a computer.

There are exceptions. Some kids really do get hooked on games or just simply screen time. If you have one of those kids, you are going to need to enforce rules about times and take care to follow through. If you find your child wanting nothing but playing on the computer, take steps quickly to limit his time and access.

To kids born after 2000, there is no such thing as a world with no internet, no access to immediate answers 24/7. It’s not wrong, it’s simply the world they’ve been born into. Help them make the best use of it while still learning the other things they need to know.

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