Parenting

The Rise of the ‘Techie Toddler’

Written by Sam Skelding

Today’s generation are growing up with the kinds of technologies that, during our childhood, only existed in sci-fi films. 

There’s no escaping the fact that technology dominates modern society. In the age of communication, every action seemingly has a digital equivalent and it can often feel as though our entire lives are spent online. It’s also not unusual for kids today to have smartphones or tablets of their own. 

“74% of parents with children aged 10 and under admitted their child already has a mobile phone.”  – Poll by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk

Despite these gadgets becoming a permanent fixture in households up and down the country, many parents still worry that unforeseen damage – and even addiction – could be caused by overuse.

To muddle things further, studies have regularly shown that technology can be great for helping your child develop early literacy skills and in some cases, enjoy a better engagement with academic activities.

So, how do you guide your kids to walk the tightrope between ‘slave to the machine’ and ‘Dark Age dimwit’? 

To the future!

There’s no denying it, technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives. You can’t even pop to Sainsbury’s without being confronted by touchscreens and automated cashiers!

If the world is headed down a technological rabbit hole, who can blame you for wanting to make sure your kids are ‘tech-savvy’? Introducing them to this form of interaction at a young age will prepare them for a future in which the simplest task is likely to demand a knack for gadgetry.

As long as they’re using these devices in an educational or purposeful way, they’ll soon develop the skills necessary to adapt to the world as it changes around them.

Brains like sponges

Kids have a remarkable talent for picking up new things. You’ve probably already stared in wonder as your little one deftly navigates the baffling interface of your new smartphone.

It’s not as easy for us to wrap our heads around but kids’ absorbent brains are primed to learn. Nurture this ability and in return, they will probably teach you a thing or two.

Get involved!

While it can be a relief to stick an iPad in their hands and get a bit of peace and quiet, don’t rely too heavily on them to distract your kids. Even if the games are educational, your child will get more out of the content if you use them together.

Solve problems just as you would with a non-digital toy. Just because it’s shiny and new doesn’t mean that the same learning principles don’t apply.

Monitor their access

It goes without saying that the internet can be a dangerous place for a young child. Fortunately, most providers now offer great ways to block unwanted content.

It’s also just as important to monitor the hours they spend with their gadgets throughout the day. Structuring the amount of time they spend using them is vital in preventing an addiction. Try introducing a cut-off period  a curfew for the digital age!

Don’t forget about the ‘real world’

The best way for kids to discover the world around them is to interact with it directly. Literacy and maths are great but it’s just as important (if not more so!) for them to develop an understanding of real life and they do this through you, not a computer.

It can be easy to get caught up in the endless world of apps and games but sometimes the traditional activities are the best. There are lots of things these devices can’t provide; exercise, social skills and the type of creativity that can only be fostered through arts and crafts  messy as they might be!

Encourage them to take a break from cyberspace, get out there and enjoy being a kid. After all, if they always had their head in a book, you would still tell them to go outside and play once in a while.

Balance is key

As with most things, moderation is paramount. Used responsibly, these gizmos can be a huge asset in your child’s education. As long as you also remember to teach them there is a world outside of their handheld screens, the influence of technology should only ever be a healthy and positive one.

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