These days, children are often introduced to the internet and other recent technology at a young age. This can impact their development in numerous ways. While there is a lot of focus on the ways that technology can be a bad for children, there are also some benefits.
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Downsides of Technology Use in Children
The World Health Organization recommends that children who are at least 2 years old, but younger than 5, should not have more than 1 hour per day of screen time and that less is better.
This is because young children are supposed to be active and learning about the surrounding environmental features. Physical activity is also important for overall development, and you should always make sure that you children remain active, regardless of their technology consumption habits.
The brain develops very quickly in young children and some experts believe that the lack of eye contact and the absorption of information from a screen could somewhat hinder natural development. Screens can make it more difficult for children to grow accustomed to interacting with their peers and their parents, which could harm their language and emotional development.
One recent study used MRI scans to find that 3- to 5-year-old children had less development in areas related to language, literacy, and cognitive skill development. This time in a person’s life is when they are developing the fastest. Young children are absorbing information and their brain plasticity is great as they form connections that will last their entire lives. It is important that they are able to form proper connections to foster healthy brain growth.
Another study found that a 2-year-old with more screen time is likely to have worsened motor, communication, and problem-solving skills than those who do not have excessive screen time. At this age, children are supposed to be interacting with their parents and siblings as their primary form of stimulation.
Benefits of Technology Use in Children
There are also some benefits to the use of technology, even with children. First, the screen time can help them relax and unwind. When a child gets worked up, it can sometimes be very difficult for them to wind down, especially if bedtime is near. Having screen time for 15 minutes to relax may be beneficial for some.
Technology is also important for most careers and educational systems also use technological systems. Learning to use technology at a young age can increase aptitude for technology and help them learn other aspects of computers and internet usage in the future.
There are also educational games and virtual books that could be good for teaching some things to children. While a child also needs other education from their parents and in school, they may learn on their own using a tablet or phone, which may be beneficial in a few ways. They could learn things that they would not have otherwise, or they may find that they like to research or learn information on their own more than they do in school.
A picture book on a tablet may also be more engaging than a traditional storybook. If your child is not interested in your bedtime stories, you could try to switch it up by using a virtual one. Some of them even having moving pictures that correlate with the part of the story that you read.
Finally, there are actually studies that show that there may not be any negative impact of screen time on a child’s mental health. Others find that the impact is not sufficient enough to worry about their screen time.
Tips for Parents
Everyone parents differently, but there are some things that you can keep in mind to allow for healthy technology uses with your children. The technology itself is not an issue, only the ways that it is used. Therefore, you need to ensure that your children are using technology in a healthy way.
One thing you can do it to try and help your kids recognize when they are using technology too much. Try to encourage them to take frequent breaks and to stay active. You can even use some games on your phone to play actively. Some games even have activity built into them.
You should also try to model healthy technology usage yourself. If you are always on your phone while simultaneously telling them they should not be, it does not really leave the impression that you would like on the child.
Also, talk to your children while they are watching a video or show. By communicating and talking about what is happening in the video or show, you are helping them understand and learn while also helping them with their communication skills.
Another way to limit screen time is to collect personal devices at certain times like lunch or dinner time and before bedtime. Then, you can keep them charging in your room to ensure that your child is not using their device all night.
Technology is not inherently bad, but unhealthy usage can have a negative impact on well-being for both children and adults. However, there are some beneficial and healthy ways to use technology as well, even if a child is watching a video on a tablet. Try to ensure that a child’s screen time is beneficial and that they understand what they watch. You should also encourage them to stay active throughout the day and week.