From the moment they are born, kids love observing and especially touching different objects around them. They are constantly exploring the world around them and touching different objects is one of the best ways to do it. Over centuries, children were playing with traditional toys but the modern era has brought some innovations that some may not approve but it seems that they would have to accept and deal with them.
Some parents consider it a problem but the fact is children are extremely exposed to electronic devices from the early ages. Apart from the electronic devices that nobody even notices anymore, such as TVs, kids are exposed to smartphones, tablets, PCs, and laptops.
Many people find this unacceptable and we agree that these devices should be introduced to the children later but the truth is that they can be often found even in preschool facilities. In this article, we will be talking about this issue and we will also try to explain all the benefits and negative sides of using electronic devices at different periods of the child’s life.
What is the Perfect Age?
If you are reading this, it probably means that you already have kids and that you are thinking about giving them a smartphone or a tablet, but you don’t really know if that’s a good idea. Your kids are probably still very young and you, as a parent, are obliged to introduce electronic devices to them. This role may seem simple and foolish, but parents are key factors that affect the way the kids and generally young people use their devices. It is really important to introduce them correctly and avoid the negative consequences we will be talking about later.
Most of the parents are concerned about the age when they can introduce their children to smartphones and tablets. If you surf the Internet for a while, you will find many studies showing different results and different scientists with opposite opinions. Some of them will say that parents should introduce these devices to their kids after the child turns at least two years while others are more radical and claim that they should wait until the kid is at least at the preschool age.
All of them have their reasons to believe in their theories, but in some cases, parents can’t really do much, especially if they want to wait until the kid is at least six years old. The problem is that many preschool facilities have tablets that are an important part of teaching and entertaining kids. If this is the situation with preschool facilities, we believe there is no need to talk about schools as they are expected to use electronic devices such as computers, notebooks or tablets in everyday work. We can’t also forget about the modern smart interactive boards that are used in many well-equipped schools.
The thing is, we may complain and argue but the world has moved on and we should try to keep up with it. We can’t exclude smartphones, TVs, computers or tablets from our children’s lives because they will be completely unprepared for all the things that expect them in the preschool facilities and schools. The only thing we can do is introduce them to all these devices correctly and show them how to use them properly.
According to most of the studies and our own experience, it would be best to start implementing smartphones or tablets into your child’s life at the age of 2 or 3. The important thing here is to be disciplined and always limit the time spent on playing with these devices. For example, it is not advisable to allow a child at this age to play with phones or tablets for more than one hour a day. If you think this is too long, you can shorten the time but if you have told your child that he can play with these devices for 30 minutes or 1h a day, you should stick to your decision no matter how desperately he begs you for a few more minutes.
As the kid grows up and gets older, you can prolong the time that he spends using electronic devices but it shouldn’t be longer than one to two hours even at the age of 7. Even in high school, you should supervise the Internet use and the time spent working on computers but we will talk more about that in the next section.
We have given you the most important guidelines but you should also bear in mind that every child is a unique individual and that no rule can be applied to every child. You are the parent and you are the one that can modify any rule according to your child’s needs, abilities, and affinities. If you see that your child understands how to use all these devices correctly, you can even prolong the time he spends using them but if you suspect that your child tends to abuse them (and your trust), the time shall be reduced to the minimum.
Parental Guidance Suggestions
When electronic devices are concerned, the main goal of every parent should be to achieve balanced and smart use. When we say balanced, it doesn’t only refer to time but also to content. When first introduced to these devices, children don’t know how to use them and parents are those who should teach them. Bear in mind that mistakes done in this period can lead to serious consequences that could last a lifetime.
One of the best ways to use every device is for learning, and smartphones/tablets are perfect for that because they are lightweight, very portable, and they can be used for surfing the internet, which is the main source of infinite information and knowledge. You don’t have to take phones/tablets from your child’s hands and force them to read books and encyclopedias all the time. They should be introduced to real books, but all these books and other reading material also exist in an electronic form that is more attractive for modern kids.
If we are aware of the fact that spending time in nature at the early age helps kids to develop all of their skills, not only motoric, we can join a day in nature and online learning. For example, when you are in the woods or a park, you can suggest to your child to explore different plants, animals, objects, etc. and take photos of them with a phone. Later, when you come home or take a break from playing hide and seek in the woods, you can use the same phone to go online and read about these plants, animals or objects together. This would be a great way for your kid to spend time using phones or tablets.
You can also download different apps to your device as they cover all kinds of topics. Using the apps, your child can learn the basics of math, geography, and also develop its cognitive skills and skills of logical thinking. If they need a book to read, download it in electronic form and the problem will be solved.
Apart from that, you should take care of the distance. Don’t allow your kid to keep the devices too close to his eyes because they can affect the sight.
Also, don’t think that older kids don’t have to be supervised. You can always find a way to limit Internet access, block certain pages or introduce a rule that the Internet can’t be used after 9 or 10 p.m. on school days. Aside from being extremely beneficial and useful, these devices and technologies can also be harmful and you will find a more detailed information in the text below.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Introducing Your Child to a Smartphone or Tablet
It is well known that electronic devices have many negative effects on child development but they can also be beneficial. We wanted to list both their advantages and disadvantages because we didn’t want to discourage you from using them but to show you what you should pay attention to.
- Spending a lot of time in front of phones/tablets/computers can cause eye problems.
- Excessive smartphone/tablet use can cause losing contact with real people. These devices can never replace human touch, communication, and interaction of any kind.
- Excessive use of electronic devices causes bad physical condition and even stress, especially if children play a lot of violent games.
- If a child spends most of his time at home in front of a computer/phone/tablet, it reduces his social skills, leads to lower grades, and generally results in school.
- Excessive exposure to the screen light could lead to sleeping disorder and other health issues.
- Smartphones/tablets enable access to the Internet at any place and any time and the Internet is the source of infinite information.
- If properly introduced to them, children can use phones or tablets to read books, encyclopedias or develop different kinds of skills.
- These devices enable young people to use the Internet to connect with different people from all over the world, keep in touch with them, and get different types of information fast and easy.
- Introducing children to smartphones or tablets before they go to preschool or school will prepare them for the computers, tablets or interactive boards they will find there.