I am on the phone talking to an aunt of mine and my little daughter is trying to draw my attention in every possible way. As my aunt at the other end is curious to know what is it that the little one wants, I reveal to her surprise and amusement that the kid, barely 2 years of age is after me because she wants to use the iPad. While women of her age are still struggling to deal with technology and can barely use few basic functions of their smart phones, it seems like child’s play for a 2 year old. But that’s the way it is. While my elder daughter (who is now close to 5 years of age) was exposed to smart phones and tablets while she was about 3, the little one had them available much earlier.
From my experience I see that kids today don’t need to be trained on technology. They only observe you at it and they have pretty much grasped it. And that’s where the risk lies!
And while it may be difficult for kids to sit with you and concentrate when you are playing a game with them or reading a book, they can sit for hours together with your mobile or tablet without even making their presence felt in the room.
And boy, addictive it is! Don’t we ourselves keep checking our phones every few minutes even when there is really no need for it? Are we not addicted to a Candy Crush Saga or a Temple Run? When we like mature adults cannot stay away from gadgets, isn’t it a lot to expect so much restraint from kids so young?
Today a lot of schools too have incorporated tablets and various other digital aids in their teaching methodology.
So is this exposure to technology acceptable? Well, yes in my opinion, as long as we as parents are aware of and are able to control what, how and how much they are exposed to.
While I am still not exposed to some of the challenges faced by parents of much older kids; yes, there are things I have been alert on and want to continue to be as my kids grow. And how do I deal with it? Few simple ways which me and my husband have come to use:
- Limit their usage of the gadgets. My kids have been made to understand that they can use these gadgets only once in a while (usually weekends) and that too when either mommy or daddy hands it over to them. They are also kept out of their reach so this is strictly followed.
- Instead of fretting over their exposure to technology, we use it to their advantage. We know that technology gives us access to a host of different educational and activity based games all of which may not be as readily available otherwise. We download the selected ones for them, appropriate to their age. This satisfies their curiosity about the gadget and also gives them some learning.
- When the kids are using the iPad, we keep the internet connection turned off so that they do not accidentally click on a link and reach any unwanted pages. While they are allowed to watch YouTube once in a while, the content is monitored by elders.
- Most important, when with the kids, we try and keep our phones away and engage them with physical games, toys and books.
This has worked well so far and as the kids grow and get more exposed to newer aspects of the digital world, I am sure we too will unearth newer ways of safeguarding them from its ill-effects.
Exposure to technology is inevitable. So let’s make it a part of life, without letting it be larger than life.