Is technology bad for kids?

image of a little boy using a smartphoneIn the age of smartphones and tablets – where us adults are constantly connected to text messages, social media updates and the vast expanse of information strewn across the web – it can be easy to place an electronic device in the hands of your child from time to time. While these devices serve as a great distractor to take your child’s mind off of less exciting topics, like traveling in the car, grocery shopping or waiting in a doctor’s office, how often have you stopped to consider how a smartphone or tablet is affecting your child’s development?

In this article, we’re addressing a new-age question that doesn’t have an easy answer: Is technology bad for kids?

What is “technology?”

Technology means many things to many people. For some, technology is a smart TV with Netflix and Youtube built in. For others, technology is a video game console. Others believe that their computer is technology.

To be completely honest, all of the above are true; these are all items of technology. For the sake of this article, the type of gadgets that your child can hold in his/her hands – smartphones and tablets – are the technology we’re referring to.

What does technology do to children?

Technology, when used responsibly, can help a young mind wonder and grow. Unfortunately, if your child is using a smart device to watch uneducational videos or play games, it may be preventing your child from branching out into other compelling aspects of life.

Technology and the Pathway to Addiction

As many adults have found out with the advent of smartphones and tablets: technology can be addicting. We love to feel connected to social media and apps and all of these other pieces of software designed to capture our attention. It’s easy to “fall down the rabbit hole” and spend countless hours on our devices each day. Why would a child be immune to these same flashy screens?

They’re not.

In fact, children tend to be lured into technology where their love for devices almost becomes instant. Children are drawn in to bright vibrant colors, attention grabbing sounds and making things happens – three characteristics many app developers build into their applications.

A Born Natural With Technology

Too often, we hear parents say, “My child is a natural with technology. He/she can use a smartphone better than I can!”

While on the surface, this may seem like a positive attribute for your child to have – a clear representation of how quickly your child picks up new things – there are inherent dangers with praising a child for being so good with a smartphone.

Positive vs. Negative Mental Stimulation

Children’s minds are in a continuous pattern of learning; they tend to absorb whatever is placed in front of them. If a child is given a smartphone so that he/she can play games or watch videos, the child will excel at using said phone. If a child is given a book to read or a puzzle to solve, he/she will excel at broadening his/her literary understanding and solving problems.

While some time with a smartphone can be beneficial to childhood development and play, it is also critical to ensure your child’s mind is being challenged and stimulated by resources that don’t come from a screen. Let your child turn a page in a book, feel a crayon in his/her hand, and build something with blocks. Let your child explore the world beyond the confines of a touchscreen.

How much time is acceptable for a child to spend with technology?

As you may have picked up from the last paragraph, this article is not a complete condemning of technology. We are simply suggesting that, like many things in life, technology should be used in moderation, especially when raising a child.

In order to keep a heathy balance between technology and other mental stimulants, we recommend for children to spend no more than 30-60 minutes each day with a smartphone or tablet. Taking this concept a step further, all smartphone time should be restricted to certain kid-friendly apps, like any of the educational options listed here. There is plenty of content on the app store that is not appropriate or beneficial for younger age groups.

Bottom Line on Technology

Smartphones and tablets can be great tools to learn with, but they can also cause intellectual harm if not used sparingly. By limiting your child’s technology intake, you are ensuring that he/she is able to connect with the world beyond these gadgets. This includes being able to learn and play with real-world items, engage in thoughtful conversation as the child grows older, and it encourages your child to get outside and stay active, even when a device is readily available.

As a parent, you have the power to mold your child’s success. Make sure he/she is spending more time in the real world than the ones designed on your devices.

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