Is technology really harming our children? Or are there positive impacts to your child using technology? You hear all over how parents are not letting their kids use tablets or won’t let them use them until they are teenagers.
As a parent you hear so many things on what to do as a parent, and what not to do; or you’re a good parent if you do this, or a bad parent if you do that. Letting your child use electronics is one of them, and we see it everywhere.
I personally let my kids use tablets and they started around 2. I know, you’re probably thinking I’m insane, I’m a lazy mom, or my poor kids. But I have my reasons on why I chose to do so.
But I wanted to write this post to do research and see if technology is really bad for our children, or if maybe there are at least some benefits to letting them be technically inclined at such an early age.
I am writing this post as I do this research so I have no idea what I’ll see. I am not saying electronics are good or bad, I’m doing this to learn and educate other parents who are struggling to decide what to do about technology and children.
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My experience with children and technology
Like I said, I let my kids start pretty young using tablets and playing early childhood learning games on my phone. I didn’t see anything wrong with it
Both of my older children when they started using electronics they learned so much. They learned their colors and shapes before the age of two. My middle child was one and a half and pointed to an oval shape and said oval. I was so impressed to hear him say that.
So yeah, I did not see any harm in my kids using tablets an playing fun learning games or watching educational videos on YouTube. I monitor what was on.
I am going to say that since they are a little older now, they are watching more things other than educational things. They are into more games and other videos. But I still don’t see a big harm in it. I am starting to limit how long they are on, because there are some days they are on it too much.
However, when they do watch and play on their tablets, they still learn a lot. They us their imaginations whenever they are watching Spider-Man or whatever it is that they they get up and run around and pretend to be him. My kids rarely sit still and stare at the tablet.
So, why am I writing this post if I don’t see a problem with tablets? Because I am curious on what research has found. I still want what is best for my kids and see if maybe if I should be a little more cautious.
Toddler’s learning development
The age of 1-5 is the most crucial for your toddler’s development more so the first 3 years. Their brains are rapidly growing at this time. Their cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and motor skills are improving immensely. At 18-20 months is when they are starting to communicate and bring everything that they have learned and putting them into words.
How Technology affects Children’s brains
Children being on computers, video games, tablets and other electronics can have a big impact on children’s attention. Attention is the foundation to other types of thinking. It is crucial for memory, learning, language, reasoning, and problem-solving. When children use devices, they have so much to look at and to do and it’s all in their face. They can go from different apps and bounce all over their tablets or devices not sticking to one thing for very long.
Technology can be an overload on children’s brains if they are using it too much.
Does Technology affects children’s social skills
There are concerns that toddlers being given tablets or phones to calm a child down and distract them could affect the ability to self-regulate. Also having a toddler be on the tablet for a long period of time can affect their communication and knowledge of how to interact with another child.
Don’t think you can never do this. I know as a mom, how sometimes you need that break or need to get something done. I’m guilty of it too. But, it’s important to limit how long they are using it and how often you use it as a back-up. Try other activities to distract them, like playing outside, or building a fort etc, instead of turning to technology every time your child is bored.
Doctors have been seeing toddlers even under 2 starting to use tablets. They are concerned about the parent and child bonding and lack of communication.
“What’s potentially at stake could be serious including: the diminishment of the strength of our bond with our sons and daughters, the loss of strong family relationships, rituals, memories and interactions, and stunted development of our children’s empathy and social skills.
Research also confirms that the more time kids plug in, the greater likelihood they will have a lower attachment or relationship with their parents.” ( Dr. Michele Borba; How Can Technology Affect Children’s Social Development?)
It is important to spend quality time and play with them without any kind of tablet or phone for them to play on.
However, children using technology can also make socializing between kids- more so older kids, stronger. They have the ability to be able to talk to each other quickly and whenever they need to. Also it brings kids together by interacting with each other in different ways.
For example, when kids play video games. My nephew has a friend who is not allowed to play video games or use any electronics. When he was over at my nephew’s house, other kids were playing video games and he looked like he really wanted to play and a little embarrassed that he couldn’t and didn’t know how.
It is important that kids feel like they fit in with their peers, and get to have similar experience. Although, there’s talk about video games and dumbing down people, there are a lot of games that teach problem-solving, eye and hand coordination. But that’s a whole different post.
Although, this is a smaller positive impact on social skills, we should really make sure that we limit how they are being used and for how long.
Negative impact on technology and our children
Contrary to what I said about interactive learning keeps kids engaged and make learning more fun, it is important to keep it at a minimum. According to Doctor Dunckley, screen time can be hyper-arousal to kids which can cause a change in hormone levels that will cause irritability, which can lead to depression.
Extended time on devices can cause the same type of addiction as a substance user. It becomes an instant gratification that kids start to crave and begin to be addicted to.
This causes kids to be confused on how to use dopamine the right way. Like the way how face-to-face interaction cause a dopamine release.
With older kids on devices can decrease the ability to know how to cope with stressful situations. If they are stressed, parents are arguing, having trouble in school, they turn to devices for a comfort and shelter not knowing how to navigate through real interpersonal skills to deal with real-life situations.
Researchers think that is has a major impact of depression and even suicidal risks in children too. Not only because of cyber bullying but kids having their devices at night, they think that the blue light can be harmful to their brain.
“Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression, even when the animal isn’t looking at the screen. Sometimes parents are reluctant to restrict electronics use in a child’s bedroom because they worry the child will enter a state of despair—but in fact removing light-at-night is protective.” ( Psychology Today)
Positive impacts technology has on our children
Like I have said earlier, that I have seen a lot of positive affects with my toddlers using tablets and other devices to help them learn. I feel that it makes learning fun the more engaging it is for them.
It seems to boost their confidence when they have learned a task, or figure out how to do something, or if they got the answer right. Positive reinforcement technique to get them to keep engaging with the learning activity they are doing.
“Research from the University of Wisconsin, presented at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development this week, found that children aged between two and three were more likely to respond to video screens that prompted children to touch them than to a video screen that demanded no interaction.
The more interactive the screen, the more real it was, and the more familiar it felt from a two-year-old’s perspective, the study suggested.” (Philippa Roxby; Does technology hinder or help toddlers’ learning?)
Scientists have said that technology does have a lot of good impacts on children’s learning aids. According to Daily Science, screens tend to help with visual motor skills. It helps with multi-tasking which is important with modern adult world. It also has it’s benefits when it comes to decision- making and problem-solving.
While doing research it seemed like most scientists and doctors were saying the same thing. That children under 2 should not to be exposed to electronics because it could damage their brain development.
A child from 2-5 should get no more than 2 hours of screen time a day. It is important that they get more play time to help them physically and mentally. We should monitor what they are playing and watching. Studies have shown that if they are exposed to violence at an early age it can impact their moods, and communication. They can become agitated easily, talk back and aggressive towards other kids.
But in conclusion, like everything in life, there needs to be moderation in the exposure kids have to electronics. Too much of anything isn’t good. Our children using technology is not the a horrible thing, technology is not the enemy. There are plenty of positive impacts to technology. Our kids learning early how to use technology will get them ready for the real world. In today’s world we are surrounded by technology and it’s important that they have that understanding on how it works.
As parents, it is our responsibility to try to balance screen time to alleviate the negative effects and emphasize the positive effects technology has on our children’s learning development.