In Singapore, it is not difficult to see a table of family members during meal time, each using their mobile devices, lost in their own world surfing for the latest trend on Facebook or Instagram.
Mealtimes are usually the only period that the whole family gets to come together to share their day-to-day experiences, yet technology has taken over at the table. Even when these adults are not using their mobile devices, it is likely you would find them being used by kids.
Considering this early immersion of kids to gadgets, we may look at it as a common occurrence since gadgets now are an important aspect of life today. For kids to be hooked on these gadgets this early in their life comes with risks and problems.
Some parents tend to introduce gadgets to their kids early in the hopes to use the applications designed for kids to help them learn. In App Stores today, you will see apps that would help your kids learn phonetics, phrases, nursery rhymes, letters, and numbers. Thanks to the fact that it is animated and easy to understand, your kids would definitely get drawn to the app.
Experts are divided with the effectiveness of mobile applications in the development of kids. Some say introducing kids to such apps would only foster early addiction to gadgets and affect their learning and development capacity.
Early Addiction To Mobile Devices In Young Children May Cause:
• Boredom in class since information is readily available on the internet
• Withdrawal from social interaction
• Preference over staying indoor
• Place too much importance in social media
• Victim of cyberbullying or cyber peer pressure
• Likes on Facebook are deemed more important than the achievements in school and sports
Medical studies also add that early exposure to gadgets can affect a child’s cognitive and learning ability, and it would cause them to have a lot of tantrum spells when you take away their devices. Some children even develop ADHD later on in their life.
Of course, there are also studies that contradict these arguments and show evidence that it actually helps in education and development. However, even if these studies remain contradictory to one another, the fact your child seems hooked and unable to tear their eyes away from gadgets is troubling.
In order to reduce your child’s screen time and prevent them from becoming too hooked, here are some tips you can try out:
#1 Lead by Example
When you are at home and with your kids, don’t focus your attention on your gadgets. Put aside your mobile phones and take the time to bond with your kids.
Face-to-face interaction is an important factor when it comes to your child’s conversational and social development since it can teach them how to react accordingly to body language. It would also help them understand social rules on discussions and how to respond politely.
#2 Schedule Purposeful Usage
Sometimes, using gadgets to teach kids certain subjects is better than the usual teaching strategy since the gadget can catch your child’s attention.
In order to ensure they do not get addicted, you will need to schedule their gadget time.
For both the American and Canadian societies for Paediatrics, infants from 0 to 2 years old should not be exposed to any form of technology. Once they reach the age of 3 to 5, you can expose them to gadgets for an hour every day and increase it to two hours when they turn 6 years old and up. The rest of your child’s time should be focused on other activities that do not use gadgets.
#3 Allow them to be bored without IT
Of course, you shouldn’t time your child’s gadget time to meal times because your child would only become disgruntled during meal times.
Your child needs to learn how to experience boredom. In a house filled with gadgets, kids would be at risk to over-stimulation and make them unable to handle a down period. This can make them lose focus on their classes.
Introduce “down time” to your kids and give them something else to work on without the use of gadgets. You can introduce Lego, board games or even take them out on trips so their minds won’t be focused on gadgets.
What Else Can You Do?
• If they are below the age of 6 years old, regulating their screen time is a must.
• If they are older children, teach them to self-regulate on gadgets and manage their own time will guide them the concept of resist and restraint.
• If you want your child to develop naturally without the need for gadgets, you can always take them to an activity school where they can learn various subjects and skills with their peers. Singapore has a lot of these schools available and some of them specialize in academics, while others focus on life skills and talents.
• Alternatively, you can hire your child a tutor who could create a specialized lesson plan for your kids. These tutors can teach your kids at home and keep them occupied while teaching them subjects as fun as those on mobile applications. Some tutors can even give you advice on how to deal with your kid’s gadget time and help you introduce intervention gently.
As technology slowly becomes a vital element in everyone’s life, it is difficult for us to keep it out of our lives for long. Eventually, our kids would definitely be exposed to this technology one way or another and be a part of their life.
There are still things gadgets cannot replicate and teach kids, which is why parents and educators alike should introduce other activities to get kids to stray away from gadgets.
Remember: too much of something can be bad and the same can be said with gadget time for kids so we must act accordingly to counter its effects!
Here are some of the things you can do at home to help to cultivate a healthy learning environment: