I remember the day my parents finally caved in and bought me my first Nintendo Gameboy. I had begged them for a good two years to get me one and I was one of the last kids on the block to have it. My parents were a tad bit more conservative than average parents and they were convinced video games would turn me into a menace to society. Thankfully for my parents, that didn’t happen and I ended up owning several video game consoles during the course of my childhood. Despite the fears that my parents had, they accepted that times were changing and in order for me to be relevant to my peers, they needed to overcome their fears. Now, I wonder if I will be able to overcome similar fears when I become a parent.
I am 23 now and it’s not an uncommon sight to see toddlers still in their strollers with the latest iPad. Every time I see this, a tad bit of fear (and jealousy!) creeps in and I say to myself, “That is ridiculous, I will never get an iPad for my child.” A recent study by a non-profit group called Common Sense Media found that roughly 1 in 5 parents said they give their 2 to 4-year-old children electronic devices to keep them occupied while running errands. In fact, developers are finding tons of profit in apps specifically targeted at babies and toddlers. Technologies are making inroads into our educational system as well. Remember doing a research paper without using the Internet? That’s almost unheard of today. Internet, laptops, multimedia projectors, online textbooks and e-learning software have replaced the “old-fashioned” way of learning.
So, whether I like it or not, these changes are here to stay and if I want my children to be relevant in the times that they live in, it is my job to set proper boundaries when it comes to technologies in the household without depriving them of it. There is a plethora of studies that found that television exposure at a very young age is detrimental to the development of a child’s focusing ability. Also, over reliance on gadgets to keep your child occupied, can have a similar detrimental effect. At the same time, however, children are finding it easier than ever to learn physics, math and chemistry with the powerful tools technologies have to offer.
So, here is my question. How can we give our children a variety of tools to learn from, but at the same time not let those things dominate, especially when they are young? Can parents play an active role in their child’s education and development?
A word from FOTFS in-house counselor Tan Soh Hiang
“Certainly, parents can play an active part. Recognizing both the benefits and banes of technology, parents can intentionally and only select those gadgets that are suitable and age appropriate for their children. The intention should not be to show off or to catch up with the latest gadgets but think ahead of how you intend for it to benefit your child. Set rules with your child in its usage and most importantly guide and show them how to use it as intended.
As Josh wrote, parents can also use this opportunity of purchasing a gadget to help the child learn how to wait or save up enough to contribute to the purchase.”
For more parenting ideas, please visit our website www.family.org.sg