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Should kids be exposed to technology at an early age?

Do you remember the first tv? It could only play in black & white and it was so huge and heavy it looked like a refrigerator in your living room. The 1st mobile phone was the size of a small purse and the weight of a brick and this was in the year 1973. Fast forward to 2009, we have made a quantum leap in the way technological advancements have been integrated into our lives.It feels great to sort of delve ourselves in this digital and technological world, looking up memes and jokes or even taking a couple of pics for the ‘gram’. However, often than not we have to constantly check ourselves to avoid being slaves to technology.

The feeling is mutual and some might say ‘imperative’ for parents to keep track of their kids activities as almost every kids these days owns a smartphone, laptop or tablet or has access to one. PBS has reported this:

  • Children under the age of 8 use technology for an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes each day, which is a consistent figure over the past decade.
  • Kids between the ages of 5-8 spend almost 3 hours each day with screen-based technologies.
  • 98% of children live in a home which owns at least one mobile device.

Thus here are some guidelines to help parents navigate this tricky road. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2013) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (2010) have published the following screen time guidelines:

  • Children under the age of 2: Should not be exposed to any screen time including TV, smartphones and tablets
  • Children aged 2 to 4 years old: Screen time limited to less than one hour a day
  • Aged 5 and above: No more than two hours daily of recreational screen time
  • Break up the time their child spends in front of the TV or using handheld tech devices to intervals of 20 to 30 minutes per session.

Dr Soong Chi Mei, Senior Principal Psychologist at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital had this to say; “We need to accept the reality that mobile devices are here to stay and have become part of our lives. Moderate use of these devices, balanced with other social and active activities is key,”

So, at the end of the day, moderation should be a key factor in deciding how to integrate technology into your child’s life. Another key element is purpose. Most parents give technology to their kids as a distraction so they can focus on work, rest etc. However this becomes a problem if the child is attached negatively to it. Parents should introduce technology with the purpose of education, inspiration and discipline to ensure their kid gets the most out of it.

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