Many parents struggle with deciding whether to let their child engage with technology. Traditionally, parents haven’t had to worry about their children being exposed to computers until they were in school. However, with the near-ubiquitous popularity of tablets and smartphones, access to apps, games and videos, the Internet has become commonplace for most children.
With this in mind, the question of technology and children is now one that asks not if, but when they will use devices. Though the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children under age two have no “screen time,” including access to smartphones and tablets, there are several benefits to introducing technology to your child when he or she hits preschool age, rather than waiting until elementary school.
1. Technological Literacy
It’s no secret that today’s world is an always-connected one, and technology is growing and spreading to almost every part of our lives. Though most of us learned to use technology when we were young adults, the next generation will be technologically literate from an earlier age—which may actually turn out to be a good thing.
The BBC reports that young children who learn to use devices like smartphones and tablets early on find virtual content more familiar and accessible than those that don’t. As a result, they learn material faster and make fewer mistakes than their peers. Knowing how to use technology from a young age gives children a solid platform from which to grow their technological experiences and proficiency.
2. Educational Opportunities
Understanding how technology works is only part of the equation. In the same BBC study, it was revealed that children who used tablets to play educational games learned content faster than those who didn’t, suggesting that using tablets and smartphones as a delivery medium for educational content can help facilitate real learning in young children. Though it’s important to stress that the children in the study were preschool age, the link between young children and learning via technology is one that’s becoming more distinct every day.
3. Creative Outlet
In addition to giving kids a new way to learn things like letters, numbers, and spelling, tablets and smartphones also afford children a great creative outlet. Building apps like Toca Builders or Minecraft encourage creative thinking in older children, but young kids can also benefit from using drawing apps or even a device’s onboard camera. Though nothing can replace the tactile feedback provided by building blocks or drawing with crayons, the fact is that there are many ways for kids to express themselves, and technology can provide a great outlet for your little one’s curiosity.
Though no one would suggest you give your young child a brand new smartphone or tablet—you could consider used devices instead—the fact is that allowing your child to access these devices can benefit them. Technology and children is a tough subject, and every family must decide what makes sense for them. Though putting technology in your children’s hands may make you nervous at first, there are some real, tangible benefits to allowing your kids exposure to devices like smartphones and tablets. As long as parents supervise their children and usage doesn’t get out of hand—most experts recommend no more than a half hour of screen time per sitting, according to PBS—technology can provide great opportunities for your children to grow and develop that you may not have anticipated.
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