We all worry that the moment of peace we get when handing over the iphone or ipad is going to come back and bite us. Is it another thing to add to the list of parent guilt? Like our parents who worried about our use of TV ‘dumbing us down’, are we facing the same challenges with todays devices?
So far the research says no….as long as its interactive and as long as we are able to put down some strict time limits.
I didn’t have this problem with my first 3 kids. They had no phone or ipad to grab. I took only pencils, paper and matchbox cars to a cafe, and that was seen as OK. Expanding their creative minds. Letting their imaginative play run wild whilst I caught up with my besties at the local café. But is there a sense of ‘copping out’ when we hand over the tech? Is it the easy pacifier, the lazy babysitter?
According to a study form the University of Wisconsin this week, 2 year olds were happier with an interactive screen rather than one they merely watched. They much prefer swiping and sending rather than merely ogling.
For slightly older kids, tests were performed with word learning and those that were used to interacting with the screen got better faster and made fewer mistakes. The study concluded that we are not turning them in to geniuses ….we are just giving them access to a little more information and some more skills to aid their learning.
I still think only time will tell. We can’t possibly have any conclusive research as our kids now are the first ones to really have ‘grown up’ with this stuff.
So heres what I think should be appropriate when looking at toddlers and technology:
- Make sure that this is not the only means of distraction at your disposal.
- Ensure that sometimes you say no ‘just because’. Because you want them to be able to interact in other ways, communicate effectively and have other means at their disposal to ‘beat the boredom’.
- When they do play games, try to find some that are both fun and educational. This should be pretty easy as there are gazillion good quality apps out there.
- Play the games with them. This can still be a great bonding time for parents and toddlers.
- Online readers and books are great but give them access to the real life turning the pages stuff as well.
- Remember you will always be your kids greatest role model. Make sure they see you put the phones down to give people their full attention. Be sure to balance the tech time with other pursuits, interests and interactions.
It is certainly a different world now for my toddlers than it was even for my tweens just 10 years ago. Remember that we are the parents and must keep it under control. The technology is great, but we are still the boss of what they do and how much time they do it for. So get in early and teach them good habits that will take them through their adolescent years and help them enjoy the technology in a safe and responsible way.