In today’s society, technology is integrated into everyday life. For most people reaching for their phone is the first movement completed in the day!
Tech is also moving into homes and schools at an alarming rate. Children as young as a year and a half are able to unlock phones, want to use a video call instead of just a regular phone call and can understand basic coding exercises.
With so many different studies and opinions being conducted, you probably feel like you are being pushed back and forth with the pros and cons of using technology with your children.
As a guide, at Hummingbird Centres, we introduce and integrate technology in simple ways; using Lego, building a tower and drawing on an interactive whiteboard. An activity as simple as driving a small toy car through an obstacle course begins to build on the foundation of coding (completing small sequences to achieve an end goal)! We also encourage the older children to take photos using an iPad so they can identify what is important to them, developing their social skills and identifying unique characteristics about themselves.
We had the opportunity to pose some questions to Dr.Rose Logan, a Clinical Psychologist with Lighthouse Arabia. Below are excerpts from the interview:
- What are your preferred guidelines for using technology with young children?
American Paediatric Guidelines suggest that under 2s should not have screen time, other than things such as video calls. From 2-6 years, screen time should be monitored and should include no more than 1 hour of quality screen time. I always suggest that parents review the amount of time their child is on a screen and make adjustments where necessary. Screen time can include T.V., a smart device, a computer, a mobile phone and so the time can add up quite quickly.
It is also important that the content of what they are watching is monitored, chosen wisely, and is age appropriate. Co-watching or co-playing is a great way to make sure you know what they are watching and can be a source of discussion later. The other guideline I also give parents is to make a Media Plan. They must also include themselves in this plan because our children learn from our actions. A media plan might include some of the points previously mentioned but should also include things like screen-free time, screen-free zones, turning devices off an hour before bed, and not having devices in bedrooms at night.
- How can parents use technology productively?
There are thousands of apps and games that claim to be educational. Don’t blindly believe the claims, do the research. Websites such as Common Sense Media help by reviewing relevant apps. Screen time can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a way of engaging children in activities that they might otherwise be reluctant to do such as phonics or maths. Technology and the internet are here to stay and educating children from a young age on things like safe usage, how to use technology to find information etc, is a great thing.
- Have you seen any benefits or drawbacks when using technology?
Of course, as with most things in life, there are pros and cons to technology use. I think the biggest drawback with technology is using it impulsively and without considering its implications. We then become overdependent on technology rather than using it to our advantage. Of course, safety around media and technology is one thing that many people are becoming increasingly aware of and we must be informed and sensible about how we use them as a family. But there are many advantages too. Knowledge and information sharing, global communication and connectivity to ideas as well novel ways to learn and enjoy our time have been brought about by the introduction of tech in our lives.
Finally, we have put together our Top Tips for using technology with your child:
- Allow 1 hour of screen time a day, this includes using a tablet, phone and television. Make sure you track this; a few minutes here and there add up!
- Make sure you inform your child of how long they have to use their device and give them a warning halfway through. When their time is finished – it’s finished, don’t give in to the ‘just a few more minutes’ line or a tantrum. This will help you to control and guide the usage as well as their future responses.
- Use interactive games to encourage social interaction with parents and siblings.
- Research what games/movies/e-books your child is exposed to. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
- If it’s not being used – switch it off
- Whtravellinging, play an e-book or encourage sing-a-longs- your child will love it if you join in too!
- Monitor your screen time – many smart phones can track how much time you are spending on your phone. Your child will appreciate your time and attention.
- Try not to use devices just before sleeping or as part of your bed time routine.
- Establish ‘screen-free’ zones and times (meals, bedtime) and follow them as a family
- Try and stick to the same routines and rules during vacations too – it’s easier to sneak in some extra hours on a daily basis when you’re on a holiday and it’ll only make it harder once you’re back!