Tech For Kids: The Good, The Bad and Tips for Parents for a Child's Safety

I would say that this is usually a topic of conversation among parents. For some "old-school" parents who prefer books over a gadget, they strictly recommend not providing a tech device for a child, explaining that it may become a distraction. Others say that it had caused their child to become socially withdrawn because he would choose the tablet/computer/ gaming console over playing with his friends. Some parents complain that their child, because of texting and the use of their devices, didn't know how to write on paper. Actually this I find shocking. I was under the impression that during the formative years of a child, teaching a child to write is a MUST in all schools. I was also under the impression that writing, reading and simple arithmetic for all people is like riding a bike- you never forget. Maybe that complaint was just overly exaggerated. For a few, their child became addicted to playing online games on their hand-held device- the child would not sleep, would not eat, would not even go to school. Once it was decided by the parents to intervene, their child reacted like a junkie with a substance abuse problem when the source of their addiction was taken away- the child experienced withdrawal. These children are currently "rehabilitating".  This horror story, I believe, isn't totally technology's fault. As parents, it is our prerogative to monitor our children and see that they are healthy. In mind and in body.

In a world where life and technology go hand in hand (face it, this is the digital era), TECH is indispensable. We send mail, pay bills, ask for directions, read books, watch and read the news, research and even hire people ONLINE. For a lucky few, they can open their apartment/condominium, put on the lights of their home, regulate the temperature of their home, and also keep a watchful eye on their homes all through the ease of their smartphones or tablets. Technology has definitely changed our way of living.

Baby with a laptop. Image Credit: Pixabay
Our children, already termed as Millennials, are natives of the digital era. Whether we like it or not, technology is already interconnected in their lives. So much so, that you can even see babies in restaurants watching their favorite programs on a tablet/Ipad. This is the reason why we parents should take it into account to expose our children to the inevitable. No use fighting it. Technology is our reality, our future. So why should we not allow tech into the lives of our children?  When our children grow up, they will also need to use these devices for everyday life, even more so. Shielding your child from technology is impossible and even counterproductive- in today's world.

I know for a fact that most of us parents were introduced to technology later in life and OUR parents are practically tech ignorant. For example, my mom just bought herself her first smartphone and is trying to figure out how to use social media and she's 67 years old. So, there's basically no support system we can turn to. If we can turn to our parents to get the recipe for their famous chocolate chip cookies or ask them what to do when our kid is sick, when it comes to tech, believe me, you'll see them scratching their heads or shrugging their shoulders.

As parents of the so-called MILLENNIALS, it is our duty to teach our children and guide them in the use of these devices. Tech is good...we have information at our fingertips, media to teach our children, a whole world of possibilities. When I was a little girl, my parents would buy me cassette tapes of nursery rhymes and songs. My mom would make me watch Sesame Street so I could learn the basics. I had to turn to bulky encyclopedias or head to the library when I needed to do some research on school topics. For today's kids, it's so different. My child is learning so fast through technology. Technology has provided me with teaching tools that are both colorful and hassle-free.

Advantages of Tech Devices on Children:

1. Information at their fingertips.
To tell you honestly, my son knows his way around his tablet (this is why I always monitor) proof that he is a true-born millennial. With his device, my son has a large array of nursery rhymes, alphabet songs, counting songs, and educational programs that are readily available with a swipe of his finger (just as long as my broadband has no problems; my provider seems to conk out ever so often). In 2 months of watching YouTube almost every day for 2-3 hours, he could recite the alphabet, count to 20, name all the planets ( Pluto though seems to get in the way), distinguish all the colors of the rainbow, point to the different shapes and name them, and can even form those shapes with clay. To my surprise, he even has started writing the alphabet and numbers without any instruction from me.
Technology has provided children a superabundance of knowledge and information that was once derived from either us parents as their first teachers, their peers, television, or books. And it is all found with just their fingertips.

2. They are exposed to the world.
Once, I caught my son watching a video that was reciting the Cyrillic alphabet. I guess the sounds were interesting to him and I was surprised that he was reciting along. He also watches alphabet and counting videos that translate to another language like French, Japanese, and even Spanish. He also watches videos of children from other parts of the globe, how they play, dance, even speak. Because of his curiosity and his device, he is able to immerse himself in different languages and cultures. Kind of like being a citizen of the world. Downfall though, he speaks primarily in English and not in the native Filipino, therefore, our household speaks primarily in English now and his playmates have to speak English or he won't follow (most of his playmates speak Bisaya).

3. Educational apps or programs as teaching tools.
Let's be honest, it's difficult to teach kids and hold their attention, most especially if there isn't FUN involved. You give them a book without pictures and I guarantee that they will fall asleep or run away from you crying. Tech devices have eliminated the "snooze" factor and have incorporated the color and fun of learning in numerous educational apps and programs. Of course, since an app has figures, shapes, and pictures that are constantly moving paired with a great background song and a perky narrator, kids are attentive and willing to learn. Also, these educational apps allow for abstract thinking, improvement of spatial skills, and problem-solving which aids in a child's cognitive development and improves abilities such as memory, judgment, and perception, accelerates learning and makes our children more motivated to want to learn more.

4. Better hand and eye coordination.
The name of the game with the use of technology is engagement, thus children who are exposed to tech devices easily develop their hand and eye coordination which is useful for reading, drawing, and writing when they attend school.
Students on laptops having some fun. Image credit: Pixabay

Disadvantages of Tech Devices on Children:

1. Health concerns.
Continuous use of tech devices among children raises the issue of certain health concerns such as leading a sedentary lifestyle, vision problems, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and poor eating habits that may lead to obesity and even diabetes. Published in the journal Pediatrics in 2004, excessive exposure to electronic screens at a young age increases the risk of developing attention issues by as much as 28%. 
According to Larry Rosen, Ph.D., a psychology professor who is actively studying the effects of tech devices on children, "research doesn't definitively support a "causative link" between technology use and attention problems, but it does support some link between the two." In a study conducted by him and his colleagues, they found that for kids ages 4-8, the amount of technology use and chances of attention problems were linked. For children ages 9-12, the use of video games specifically predicted increased attention problems and for teenagers, more social media use, gaming, and more overall online time predicted an increase in both attention and behavioral problems.

2. Social Anxiety in the Real World.
Unfortunately, excessive online time causes social developmental problems as he/she may become a "disconnected" youth. Many experts and even parents agree that tech devices are mind distractions and mind destructions when not controlled. This may cause children to become disconnected from reality. Prolonged use of gadgets may affect the way children interact and maintain relationships with other people. Children may have difficulty when it comes to face-to-face interaction with real people and may suffer from social anxiety when exposed to the real world.

3. The possibility of accessing/sharing unsuitable content, engaging in "criminal acts", or engaging in cyberbullying- that is, without their better judgment.
Unfortunately, pornography is easily accessible, they may learn how to hack, and of course, because of social media, cyberbully someone. These are concerns that need the vigilance of all parents.

Here are 8 tips for parents for when our children are online with their devices:

1. Navigate the programs or content that you want your child to see on his gadget. Ban or block what you don't. Educational videos and apps are a great way for a child to develop his writing, mathematical, and reading skills. Plus, all those colorful characters and "games" make it an enjoyable experience for children.

2. Always check on what your child is doing when he's using it. Monitoring your child is a must. Sometimes a video is titled one way and looks like it's G- rated but there could be harsh language present in the video. It's so easy to navigate content on devices these days, that it comes as quite a shock when your child finds something inappropriate after several swipes on the screen.

3. If your child is old enough to enter social media sites, please lecture your child regarding the proper use of social media, of the existence of child predators, and cyber-bullying. Make sure your child is only on social media when an adult is present. Social media is a powerful platform which so many people are using- honestly or otherwise. Tell your child to never give out sensitive information over the Internet. Who knows who is lurking in the dark.
As a parent practice vigilance. Online predators
may be lurking.
Image credit: Pixabay

4. Teach your child how to tap into the Internet's resources to maximize learning. The Internet is information at our fingertips. The world wide web is a great tool for research and gaining information. Educate children how to properly access and gather data and teach them about plagiarism and copyright infringement.

5. As for gaming, I only recommend educational games. Other online games ( car racing, war games etc.) should be strictly prohibited. Games as such are highly addicting and may cause behavioral and psychological changes in your child which in effect may cause harm to his overall health.

6. Tech is not a babysitter nor a pacifier. Parents are using tech to distract or placate their children at restaurants to avoid disturbing other dining patrons. Unfortunately, this "tablet at the table" pacifier is becoming a trend. Parents who do this all the time allow their children to disengage from the world, suppressing the child's psychosocial behavioral development. How are your children supposed to learn appropriate social behavior if at each time you keep distracting him with tech? It is our job as parents to teach them proper social behavior. Don't take the easy way out.

7. Make tech time bonding time with your kids. It makes monitoring easy and you get to have fun as a family.

8. Limit the time they spend on their gadget. Engage them in other activities like sports, arts, or simply just letting them go outside so they can play with their friends. Kids are kids. Remember when you were a kid? You always wanted to be with your peers instead of staying at home watching TV all day? Allow your kids to explore and be with their friends. Creating real relationships not just a relationship with the virtual world.

Tech isn't's a great learning tool. It's the way of the future. We just have to use it in the proper way...responsibly. Teaching our children as early as now is a great way for them to expand their horizons but instill a proper mindset regarding technology.

Supervision is key. Image credit: Pixabay

*Originally published on 9/24/17

Related Links:
6 Advantages and 7 Disadvantages of Exposing Young Children to Technology

Is Technology Killing Your Kids Attention Span?

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  1. Tech for kids is ok...just got to monitor what they access on the internet.

  2. There's a link between ADD and the prolonged use of gadget. I suffer from that but it's mostly because I try to multitask. Seems there's a need to do one thing at a time.

  3. Those are some great tips. I know some kids that don't have or even feel the need to stay with a smartphone in their hand and others that can't let go. I do agree that you have an eye on your kid while his on any device. And also I think every child and age is different.

  4. My kids have a lot of tech devices. I just make sure to check on them to make sure everything is safe. You just never know these days.

  5. Back in my days, this was not even a concern. I am not just 25. But true that it must be quite hard to control everything kids are exposed to.

    1. They are hard to control and they are so quick. I love the advancements in technology but, there's that fear. I know I won't be able to shield my son forever but, I'm keeping a watchful eye.

  6. This is a very good topic to discuss. As a teacher I think it's okay for the kids to learn and use technology since they'll be using it when they grow up. But it's important to guide them through it all and to make sure that they're also safe.

  7. This article is so true. I try to strike a balance for my niece when it comes to tech

  8. I think the most important thing to remind ourselves that there should be a balance for kids using technology. I love your tips. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Everything is good in moderation. When it comes the kids, safety is also a huge factor. I think it's really important that we talk to them and educate them about technology and how it can and cannot help their lives.

  10. I really like this post. I especially like the part about excessive electronic use and real life anxiety. I think this can be true for adults as well.

  11. Moderation is key. I am an advocate for early education and I know that children learn the most between 0-5....and technology has a lot to offer. But moderation is key. I love the educational games, apps, and devices.

  12. I think I don't want my kids to be exposed soon in gadgets. I want them to learn the traditional way first.

  13. This is interesting to read, I don't have kids so I have never thought much about the way that tech is good and bad for them. They definitely need a mix of tech and non-tech in their lives these days I think.

  14. I am the parent of a GenY and Millennials - and I know more about tech that most people in ANY age bracket - not just millennials or GenY. I'm a GenXer and am definitely NOT tech ignorant. I talked my high school math teacher into teach a college level PASCAL programming class in a school that didn't have computers. I have passed on my love for tech to my kids, exposing them to it as early as possible - however, I didn't allow my kids - the millineals or the GenYs - to have cell phones until they were driving. It wasn't necessary. They could use the computer - and it was locked down and monitored. I believe turning kids loose with unmoderated access to social media is a horrible idea.

  15. My son isn'[t quite old enough to really use technology in a bad way. I let him use it to play educational games or watch Disney Junior when we're waiting at the doctor's office and he's getting antsy. I agree that technology can be such a great tool for kids, as long as it is monitiored and used in the right way!

  16. This was nice to read. In our family we use technology a lot. But we still have taught our kids to use dictionaries or encyclopedias like I had to use, instead of google or bing! Thanks for sharing.

  17. In all honesty, I believe it is up to the parents to decide. Since, I am expecting I have thought so much on technology and the role it will have in my child.

  18. New parents are really going to appreciate this post. There are so many tech options out there for kids; it can be hard to know what is good and bad.

  19. I love that you present the advantages and disadvantages of technology for children, and I think the positive points are very interesting, however, I prefer to postpone the use of any type of screen as much as possible, since children learn more than social interactions with others, especially with their peers, while the screens generate a social anxiety that is causing many other undesirable problems. Thanks for sharing this much-needed topic.

  20. It is such a fine line we have to walk as parents exposing them to this whole new world of technology. We want them to succeed and be prepared and yet in some ways socially we do them a disservice if we allow technology to become their world. It's so important to get outside of it now and then and deal with people face to face.

  21. I love all your comments. This is a great topic among parents. Your input is such a great help. Will update this post as soon as possible. Thank you.

  22. I have never been against my daughter using tablets, as I find she learns a lot from them!

  23. There is a lot that you can do to make sure that kids are safe on tech. There is so much that they know how to do that I even don't which is scary!

  24. Yeah, there is alot parents need to be doing to make sure their kids are safe of tech these days.

  25. I remember my parents being diligent and watchful on when and what I would be surfing the net. They made sure to teach me how to navigate but also set safety protection so that there wouldn't be things I shouldnt be accessing.

  26. I think tech can be a really good thing for kids. It is definitely important to monitor use, though.

  27. Like everything else, technology and gadgets should be used in moderation. My theee year old is already know how to use the iPad without being taught. I think we definitely have to provide them with guidance and steer them towards the advantages of using technology.

  28. Thank you all for your input. Your insights are very important and will use your thoughts to update this post.

  29. BANDAR TERBAIK Klik Dan Dapatkan BONUS sekarang Juga!!!


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