Similar to any other parent in this world, you must have recorded, and may be still are recording, some of your child’s very firsts – first smile, first steps, first words, first day of school, etc. But nowadays, with the advent of modern technology, our photo albums are filled with things like our child’s first electronic toy, our child’s first iPod, our child’s first computer or laptop, and many other things. Surely all these things are a part of the modern society we live in, but no parenting guidebook will be able to assist you when it comes to handle and control the usage of these devices by your kids.
Our national and international media prints daily publications, trying to make people aware of the various nefarious aspects of kids using digital devices. But we must always remember that if we allow our kids to use such devices, they can benefit from them in a variety of ways. The growth and development rate of children varies from one child to the other. Some children may be smart enough to use a computer at age 4, while another one takes a lot of time to do so. Here are a few things that you must know about the maturity level of kids at different ages, and how you should be handling such age groups.
Age 0 to 1: The age of pushing buttons
- A child may learn the simple concept of cause and effect from a variety of electronic toys
- A child can handle an iPhone or a smartphone with expertise (but on airplane mode)
- A mobile phone should be kept away from the phone when grandparents are trying to talk (use loudspeakers if need be)
Each and every baby toy that any toy store sells comes with features like playing music and lighting up. Various experts and child specialists believe that modern baby toys are digital rattles, because these toys can quite easily be used to teach children about cause and effect, along with the added benefit of honing hand eye coordination and other hand related skills. Even so, parents should always remember to buy toys for children, that won’t always require batteries or chargers to run. If you have a child who is around the age of 9 months, the amount of toys should be well proportioned, based on a fixed ratio, in order to give the child a fair chance at learning something new every day. For example, if you buy digital toys, then your child can simply press a button, and music will start playing along with a spectacular light show. But if you buy active toys, then your child will require your help to play with it, which gives you a chance to spend as much time as possible with him or her.
No expert has ever been able to give a proper report as to what happens if a small child starts using a cellphone. But medically, cellphones can be quite harmful for children, because the phones let out electromagnetic fields, which may cause damage to the child’s brain, owing to a thin, underdeveloped skull. So it’s best to keep them away.
Age 1 to 2: Introduction to modern technology
- Your child can watch educational television shows like Dora the Explorer, Super Why! and Blue’s Clues
- He or she can play with cause and effect iPhone or smartphone apps
- He or she will imitate each and everything you do with a phone or computer
Although several experts are of the opinion that children below the age of 2 should not be allowed to watch television for more than a couple of hours, it may prove to be useful to just switch on Blue’s Clues and let him or her watch it, while you finish some quick work in the kitchen.
Some 1 decade ago, a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed that if your child watches television shows like Blue’s Clues, Arthur, Dora the Explorer, etc. from the age of 6 months to 30 months, he or she will develop an extensive vocabulary and language capacity. But letting kids watch soap operas or movies or anything that is made for the grownups is never a smart idea, because kids who watched these programs showed signs of a reduced language capacity. So what’s the final verdict on this? Let your kids watch TV shows like Dora the Explorer for a couple of hours every day so as to allow him or her to learn something.
Age 2 to 3: Apps for toddlers
- Your child can read children’s stories on an eReader
- Your child can also play with certain smartphone apps, where they have to find hidden treasure or sort and identify certain shapes
- You can purchase certain toys for your child that may teach him or her about how to pronounce vowels, letters and numbers
Buying an eReader for your child makes story time much easier. Amazon Kindle has a huge collection of children’s story books, which may be downloaded on any eReader. Some eReaders come with a read out loud feature, so that when no adult is around, the child can still listen to the story from someone else just by pushing a button. As a parent, you should monitor the type of content there is on your smartphone. If your child has the habit of playing with your smartphone, then you can download certain fun apps, which allow them to play in a digital way. Some apps allow kids to identify and sort shapes, while some are all about finding hidden characters and / or hidden objects. These apps can prove to be very much educational.
Age 3 to 4: The swiping days are here
- Your child will be able to use a tablet quite easily
- You can download apps which all about matching games and puzzles, so that your child can play
Tablets are extremely useful when it comes to developing hand-eye coordination of a child. Since tablet screens are locked, kids can be taught how to swipe the screen to unlock it. As they learn this new trick, they will be able to do it more and more. They will look at the screen, see it locked, and swipe it to unlock all. But after a few days, they won’t even have to look at the screen. Their developed sensory and motor skills will let them unlock it even with their eyes closed. Now let’s come to apps on a tablet. You can download puzzle apps and various other educational kids’ apps on your tablet, so that when they unlock it, they have something to do with it rather than banging it on the wall. These puzzle apps are both fun and educational, and are quite useful when it comes developing your child’s senses.
So you see – not all technology is bad. Some gadgets can be really helpful to teach your child more about what colors are, what alphabets are, etc. But you have to be a responsible adult – keep your phone and tablet clean. If you have kids, make sure that there is no adult content on your phone. You do not want your child to find something you worked very hard to hide.
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