Amongst the many challenging issues affecting modern day parents, technology is perhaps one of the most perplexing. After all, the devices found in most households today just weren’t around when we were growing up. There is a lot of negative press about kids using technology, but the reality is that these technologies are going to shape the way our children live and work, so how do we as parents ensure they’re introduced in a healthy, positive way? Here is a simple A, B, C guide:
A is for Apps, Attention and Audio
Apps are a hugely valuable part of your child’s first technological experience. Be choosy, pick the ones from the publishers you trust and focus on education as well as entertainment. Never let your young ones choose games without you having checked them out first.
Just like your child, technology craves your attention. Where possible make sure you give your attention to the right place at the right time. A constantly distracted parent makes a poor role model for future technology success.
One of the most overlooked wonders of the internet age is the joy of audio books and podcasts aimed specifically at young children. As with apps, be choosy, pick the titles from authors and publishers you trust and, if possible, sit and listen together to make the most of the experience! (See Bonding).
B is for Bonding, Boredom and Browsers
In the early years, technology is an experience that is best when shared. In fact, the absolute best way to introduce very young children to technology is to have them engage with a loved one via a video call. This demonstrates how technology helps to connect with others and has the benefit of building on already established relationships.
Boredom is a hugely important state of mind and we need to help our children both understand and learn to love the opportunity that boredom creates. Boredom is the gateway to creativity but if we avoid being bored by entertaining ourselves with technology we often fail to find that magic door. From time to time, help your child to embrace boredom, keep the screens out of reach (for both of you!) and watch the magic that happens. (See also Creativity)
Browsers are a wonderful window into the on-line world, through them you and your child have access to pretty much every single fact our society has ever known. This will be one of their greatest assets as they grow up and it’s never too late to start to teach them how to make best use of it (and of course, how to avoid its pitfalls).
C is for Curiosity, Creativity and Computers
A curious mind and the internet go hand in hand. Encourage your young ones to ask questions and explore the answers together on-line. Show them how access to knowledge helps them learn more about the world around them and be entertained along the way.
Whilst most people spend their on-line hours consuming content, the real fun starts when you use the power of technology to unleash your children’s creativity. If your kids love playing games, show them how they can make their own. If they love listening to music or watching videos, help them make their own. You don’t need a lot of equipment you can do lots on your phone and it’s just for fun, they’re not going to be earning a living as an influencer (yet…)
Whilst the majority of the technological experience your child will enjoy while they are young will be via a tablet or smartphone, don’t be shy about introducing them to a proper computer or laptop too if you have access to one. You’re never too young to learn how to use a keyboard and it’s also a great way to help them start to learn their real A, B C’s as well as learning to spell.
Dave Coplin is an established technology expert, speaker and author, providing strategic advice and guidance around the impact of technology on a modern society in order to help organisations and individuals embrace the full potential that technology has to offer.
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