Talking Tech with Tots
There's only more to come. Just like your child, technology is rapidly developing too.
As a parent, you may be wondering what technology is best to use with your child. What is appropriate and what is not? Just like television (which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no viewing of for children under the age of two), other forms of technology seem to be ever present in our lives. With slick designs and colorful lights, it is attractive to both adults and our munchkins.
Is there a right time and right place to begin using technology with your child? If so, how much and when?
They see it every day. It's your camera phone. It's the ipod that allows them to bounce along to music joyfully. It's your laptop that allows you to access the great information you're reading now! Then, there are the educational websites. Great sites such as http://pbskids.org/ provide a multitude of familiar characters (many us adults love too!) that can tell stories and provide fun interactions, even for the littlest learners.
Technology is grand.
Or is it?
Young children live in the here and now. They are concrete learners who see something and believe it is as they see it. They don't quite understand imaginary characters or that the person in the computer isn't really talking to them.
Face-to-face, human-to-human interactions serve their growth and development the best. Young children need positive social interactions. Though technology can bring happy faces into our lives at any time, they cannot replace the immediate response a real human can provide. For these reasons, the use of technology as a tool of engagement and entertainment should be kept to a minimum. It is also best to wait late into toddlerhood to begin allowing your child to access technology (i.e. the wonderful Internet site I mentioned above). When you do begin to allow your child to interact on the computer (with your guidance, of course), use something like an egg timer to limit the amount of time spent online. As TV provides a similar type of entertainment experience, work to monitor the amount of time your child is engaging in these activities. Keep it to a minimum. There are much better ways for your child to learn and grow (think painting, puzzles, bikes, blocks, etc.).
In addition to not providing the one-on-one, intimate, and interactive contact they need, the overuse of technology may be detrimental to their physical development. Young children need to move and groove. They need to bounce and play. Though there may be video games that promote physical movement (whether through dancing or a variety of prompted activities – i.e. jumping), nothing can replace a good old stroll or exploration of the great outdoors.
As with most things in life, technology can be beneficial to both you and your tot in small doses. Everything in moderation.