Gone are the days when even owning a computer is a luxury. Now, every kid holds an electronic gadget with their eyes glued to the screen.
Technology can be important in terms of education for a child, but parents should take care to monitor the effects of technology on a growing child.
Children learn to talk and communicate by interacting with other people. The first few years of their lives are crucial for their language development. This is when their brain is the most receptive to learning a new language and building communication pathways. Regular use of touchscreen platforms could also affect the fine motor coordination development in children due to lack of hands-on exploration.
The use of technology at a very early age, the time spent and the type of content watched become predictors of poor executive functioning. This includes impulse control, self-regulation, mental flexibility, as well as the ability to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings in pre-schoolers. Other health risks include poor sitting posture and eye strain from staring at electronic screens too long.
Children below two years old are still developing cognitive, language, sensorimotor, and social-emotional skills, which require hands-on exploration and social interaction with trusted caregivers. As such the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages media exposure for children younger than two years and recommends only one hour per day of screen time for children between two and five years old.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, as digital and social media, when used in moderation, has its benefits. These include early learning, exposure to new ideas and knowledge, increased opportunities for social contact and support, and new opportunities to access important lessons and information. Choose appropriate quality programmes that can improve cognitive, linguistic and social outcomes for three to five years old children.
Screen time should not compromise bonding time. Screen time together with your child can promote enhanced learning, greater interaction, and limit setting. Besides limiting screen time parents should also review the content that your children is watching. Parents should also encourage other interactive activities which promote brain development, such as playing and reading.
Sometimes, busy lifestyles mean parents have less time to spend with their children and thus we leave them to their own devices (literally). But all parents want the best for their children and should take time to check that on their child’s tech usage.
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