In an increasingly tech-savvy world, your kids undoubtedly will want the latest gadgets and devices. Staying ahead of the curve on technology trends will help you to keep your kids safe, informed, and enjoy the best technology experiences, whether it be connecting with friends on social media or building their skills playing the latest video games. Understanding the areas where it’s important to be informed can help you and your children be tech-savvy and reap the most benefits from technology.
Knowing The Limits
While it’s necessary to teach your children about technology and how to use it, there’s also a limit that should be put in place. Research shows that there’s a negative impact of screen time on brain development in very young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children under 18 months should avoid being placed in front of screens to help ensure the healthy development of cognitive and communication skills. With 40% of three-month-old infants regularly getting screen time, it’s clear that screens are often being used as a substitute for important physical interactions that do help develop language and learning. Additionally, too much screen time leads to obesity in toddlers, sleep disruption, and even the development of fine motor skills.
Finding The Best Resources
That being said, technology has become an integral part of society, and children who learn how to use it at an appropriate age will have an advantage in learning, even at the elementary school level. Tech know-how can serve them well throughout their K-12 education and into college, and it can help them to find a good career. Even jobs that are not technology-focused are increasingly integrating some sort of technological capability, whether it’s an office environment, manufacturing, health care, the service industry, or another career.
Get your children started with some educational apps, such as ABCmouse.com, many of which can be used by children as early as age 2. ABCmouse offers a wide range of learning activities designed by teachers that help kids learn letters, colors, words, animals, math, science, and more. The Epic! app offers books and reading recommendations for very young to pre-teen children, giving you another option for useful screen time. Duolingo offers a way for older children and teens to learn a language through audio and oral exercises. The important thing is knowing what kinds of apps will be helpful and useful to your children so that they can enjoy the best educational experience.
Ensuring Safe Online Navigation
As your child grows and begins to want to use technology more freely, social media inevitably comes into the picture. Cybersafety should be an ongoing discussion with your child. Make sure that your children know not to give out personal information to people they don’t know – including their home address, telephone number, and other personal information. Make sure your kids understand and implement the privacy settings on their social media sites, and make sure you implement parental controls or have access to all the sites your children connect to until they reach a certain age. Talk with your kids about cyberbullying, what it can look like, and how to carefully think through the posts they decide to share. It’s not all bad: These are opportunities to build critical thinking, empathy, and social awareness skills.
Protecting Your Own Data
It’s always important to make sure you have updated the latest security software on your computer to protect yourself against viruses and other online threats. But once you get younger, more inexperienced fingers at your keyboard, it becomes even more imperative to keep your security settings up-to-date. Teach children the danger of clicking on suspicious links, and what a suspicious link might look like, as well as what kind of trouble it might cause (rendering the device unusable is a highly motivating consequence). Ask them to ask you before downloading anything to your devices. Even better, integrate some cybersecurity learning activities into your child’s online education – you might even have a built-in cybersecurity expert in the making.
Having Fun Is OK
Even video games in moderation have demonstrated benefits for kids. Online gaming that creates interaction with other players helps build social and communication skills. Studies show that video games build hand-eye coordination, which can translate to many different kinds of real-world skills, including improved reaction times for driving, and even virtual surgery. Video games can help build critical thinking, strategic skills, and teamwork. Just be sure to limit the time played each day, as an excess of gaming also can be a sign of depression and take away time from other important learning and social activities.
Technology is here to stay, so it’s important for parents to be tech-savvy enough simply to be able to guide their children to the best tech-related activities, to stay safe, and to find the best ways to enhance their educational journey online.