Much has been said about the evils of screen time, but the truth is that technology has its benefits as well. In many industries, tech innovations drive growth and productivity, and the education sector is no exception. They have enabled remote learning and provided access to endless learning resources that no physical library can compete with.
For these reasons and many others, banning technology to curb screen time use may not be the answer. This would mean that kids will miss out on learning opportunities online. In fact, according to the 2017 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report on The State of the World’s Children—Children in a Digital World—there’s growing concern about the inequality in digital accessibility. This digital divide represents the gap between children with Internet access and the 29 percent of youth worldwide (around 346 million individuals) who are not online. In a few years, after the 2017 report, the global COVID-19 pandemic will prove just how much children need access to technology.
As a parent, you have a responsibility to ensure that your child is afforded digital access to maximise their learning. However, your responsibility does not stop there. You also have to maintain a delicate balance between reaping the benefits of technology and minimising the detrimental effects of its excessive use.
So, take the proactive approach and introduce your child to technology in a purposeful and wholesome manner. In doing so, they can foster a healthy relationship with tech tools as they grow older. To that end, here are some tips you can take into consideration:
1. Enroll Your Child in a Preschool with Age-Appropriate Computer Literacy Programmes
Preschool is the perfect starting point when a child can be gradually introduced to technology. While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends zero screen time for toddlers and babies, the organisation also recommends that 3 to 4-year-olds be allowed an hour or less of sedentary screen time per day.
In Singapore, enrolling your child in preschools or child care centers such as Kinderland can be a good way to introduce your child to the concept of technology. Kinderland’s curriculum incorporates “Literacy Through I.T.,” a comprehensive, computer-based, multi-sensory instructional system meticulously crafted to guide children in developing writing skills even before learning to read. If you’re interested in knowing more about this, check out what parents say about Kinderland.
By learning about technology in a classroom, your children will have a more purposeful and intentional learning experience. This is in stark contrast to children using gadgets to consume inappropriate or overly stimulating media, which also serve to associate devices with entertainment rather than tools for education.
2. Download Educational Apps and Learning Tools
Transforming screen time into a valuable educational experience is key to fostering a positive relationship with technology. That’s why you should select the right educational apps that can turn tablets and smartphones into powerful learning tools.
Consider apps that align with your child’s developmental stage. These should feature interactive and engaging content that will get them out of the chair and start moving. Alternatively, download educational apps that aim to develop a child’s cognitive skills. From alphabet games to math puzzles, the digital world offers a plethora of opportunities to make learning fun and captivating.
3. Integrate Devices in Meaningful Bonding Activities
Move beyond passive media consumption by integrating technology into meaningful activities. Whether it’s exploring educational websites together or using digital platforms for creative projects, make devices a part of interactive experiences. For instance, helping your child learn to code or animate simple objects on a tablet is an incredible learning activity that’s difficult to replicate without technology.
Moreover, why not join your child in learning how to draw or paint using these devices? Simply search for free tutorials for kids and have a fun time following the instructions. Through these activities, you not only enhance your child’s learning but also strengthen the parent-child bond through shared tech adventures.
4. Educate Your Children about Online Safety
It’s never too early to teach your kids about online safety. Talk about the importance of privacy, responsible online behavior, and the potential risks associated with sharing personal information.
To explain these concepts to younger children, you can use various online resources and videos that are age-appropriate and easy to understand. That said, nothing beats parental vigilance when it comes to Internet safety, so always be present when they are online, especially when your child is still learning about technology and its proper use.
5. Model Good Screen Time Habits
As parents, your behavior serves as a powerful model for your children. Demonstrate good screen time habits by establishing healthy routines.
Designate specific times for device use, create tech-free zones within your home, and prioritise face-to-face interactions. Moreover, have open communication about the importance of balance to ensure that your children understand the reasoning behind screen time rules.
Appropriate parental intervention is essential in raising tech-savvy and responsible individuals. Through these best practices, parents can guarantee that their children’s introduction to technology will be both enriching and balanced. So, strive for a harmonious blend of tech and traditional play. Allow your child to explore the wonders of the digital and offline worlds while providing proper guidance at all times.