For millennia, the human species grew up in a world without electronic devices, let alone smart ones. But over the last 20 years, and in the last 10 in particular, that’s all changed. Children are now so used to the technology in their homes that there are videos of toddlers online literally using their fingers to scroll down the pages of physical paperbacks.
The first reaction of many parents is to try to remove technology from the home. It’s just too much stimulation for the child, they tell themselves. But denying technology outright might not be in the best interest of the child in the long term. It’s evident to practically everybody now that technology will become an increasingly important part of our lives in the future. Given the current direction of travel, our lives are set to be dominated by it over the next 30 years, to the extent that machines may wind up inside our bodies. We may even need them to remain competitive in the labour force.
So what can worried parents do to help their kids manage the technological world in which they find themselves?
1. Teach Them How To Stay Safe
Just like the physical world, the digital world has its fair share of dangers. There are malicious people out there who try to groom kids as well as material which just isn’t suitable for children at an early stage of development. Parents should combine the use of a safe app for kids with education about how to avoid disturbing content and online threats. There should be trust between parent and child so that your children always feel comfortable talking to you about what’s happening online.
2. Teach Them About The Importance Of Face-to-Face Conversations
There are more than a thousand apps on the Play store which facilitate communication. But none of them can (as yet) emulate a genuine depth of real-life, interpersonal interactions.
We’ve evolved for thousands of years to spend time with each other, reading each other’s faces and basing our approach of subtle cues. That’s all lost in text interactions and is hard to learn once children are grown up. To be successful in the world, kids need to know that being face-to-face with others is essential.
3. Teach Them To Use Technology For Reflection
Most of the time, kids want to use technology for consumption. In other words, they want to play games, watch videos and listen to music. But they should also be taught by mums that technology can also be used for reflection.
What exactly does that mean though? Essentially, it means technology is also a tool. It’s something that we can all use to come up with new things. Just like a painting set can be used to make art, technology can be used to make games, apps, and music. Children who learn to understand the language of technology will put themselves at a distinct advantage in the future.
What’s more, the ability to master the digital space also helps children develop their self-worth. The knowledge that they’ve mastered a particular field of endeavour gives them greater confidence and resilience.
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.