Technology plays an important part in all of our lives in the modern day; even in those of our children. It’s thought, for example, that as many as one in four children age under six have a smartphone, even though parents think 11 is the ideal age to begin using such devices.
As the rate at which devices become used by younger children increases, many parents suffer from ‘tech guilt’; a sense that they, they children or both should use technology less. But is that fair? Is technology really that bad for your child, or a vital tool for parenting in 2020? Let’s look at the case for and against…
Health: There’s no getting away from the fact that the UK has a serious obesity problem, and that much of this begins in childhood. Stats show that more than a third of children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Children that don’t engage in enough physical activity and spend much of their free time using technology risk falling into this category. It can also (just as for adults) be disruptive for their sleep too; which is also a key health concern.
Security: There are also fears about what your children will see when they’re online, either using the internet or on chat functions within games. Bullying can be an issue, while one study found that more than half of 11-16 year olds had been exposed to online pornography.
Building relationships: There’s also a concern that time spent on tech deprives children of social interaction with their peers and others and makes them less able to build and develop the interpersonal skills they’ll need to get on in life.
Educational: It’s easy to focus solely on the sordid side of the internet and forget the positives. Used well, it’s a near-limitless source of knowledge and learning that can enhance and enrich your child’s education. This positive side certainly came in handy during 2020, with a pandemic-induced lockdown forcing many parents to take some responsibility for schooling their children – and it’s no wonder than a good chunk of them think more favourably about technology as a result.
Essential skills: Whatever your view on technology, you can hardly ignore its importance. In the modern, digital world using smartphones, laptops and tablets is every bit as necessary as a pen and paper. Today’s children will be extremely well-prepared for the world they’re growing up in and they can fine tune these basic skills with technology.
Problem solving: As iD Tech notes: “With technology comes freedom of expression, and with such freedom comes the chance for kids to independently set out and achieve something, largely on their own. In doing so, they face roadblocks and challenges that must be cleared if they’re to reach their goals, so they learn how to deal with such hurdles.”
The debate over technology does, in some respects, mirror that of food. The right tech, in moderation, is definitely good for your child’s development. Unhealthy tech, or too much of it, is the problem to guard against.