Perhaps this should be said loud and very clear: new gadgets have their dark side. Tablets devour our time and cut us off from other people. And yet we tend to leave small children alone with technology. All this has inspired the social campaigns ‘Mom, Dad, and Tablet’, or ‘NO to Tablets for Small Children!’
According to a study conducted by Millward Brown, commissioned by the Nobody’s Children Foundation (NCF), over 40% of Polish children have used tablets and smartphones by age 2, and nearly 30% use these devices every day. In the 5–6 age bracket, the share of children who use mobile devices increases to 84%. NCF’s new campaign ‘Mom, Dad, and Tablet’ draws attention to the dangers related to premature and uncontrolled use of electrical devices by small children.
The aforementioned study indicates that most Polish parents who let children aged up to 6 years use mobile media admit that they do so to entertain their children and ‘have some time for ourselves’.
These results and observations are all extremely alarming. Ignorance about the proper use of new technologies by children often motivates the opposite approach: aversion to any and all technological inventions. Technophoby usually stems from one’s helplessness in the face of the changing world, and should also be discouraged as an approach. IT education is part of the school curriculum, and the ability to take advantage of new technologies is a natural response to reality. The task of parents and teachers is to prepare children for this reality. While we should never ignore the dangers that come with technology, it seems equally harmful to ignore it, especially since, sooner or later, our children are bound to come in contact with it.
Once you give your child a tablet, remember about:
Time management: set the rules. Kindergarten children should work or play with a tablet no more than 20 minutes per day. Older children should use the tablet for no more than 30 minutes per day;
Purposefulness: we should only provide children with valuable ways to spend their time. ALWAYS CHECK what games and apps your children are using;
The lower age limit: don’t give a tablet to children 2.5 years old or younger.
It’s worth asking yourself a question before gifting a tablet to your child: ‘Am I doing this just to keep my child quiet?’. Remember that all children are experts in observation. Don’t let any shortcomings in your attention be compensated by a tablet.
A proper use of technology can frequently help bring out a child’s potential. A tablet is an immensely attractive tool. Why not take advantage of it in education?
Suggest activities to your child that will help him or her develop.
Try to choose the best educational apps from among the many available ones.
Pay special attention to what kind of activity your child is doing on a tablet.
Don’t leave your child alone with the device (after all, you don’t leave your child alone when teaching him or her to ride a bicycle).
Children’s bad habits in using technology are mostly the result of their parent’s bad behaviour, which is fuelled by the parent’s prejudices and ignorance. When it comes to knowledge about technology, our children are often a good way ahead of us. Parents feel too incompetent to support their children’s development in this respect. This, however, does not mean that we should hamper this development. All this makes it even more important to educate parents about technology by getting rid of stereotypes and encouraging openness to new information.