There was a time when parents were considering how early they should teach their child to read. Buying the first book that they could read on their own was a big step. Watching them hold the book and reading it on their own was a special moment. Then there was the consideration of when it was alright for the child to move up to an ink pen from a pencil.
Today, parents have other considerations. How young is too young to get them a cell phone? When should I buy them their first computer, laptop or tablet? While most gadgets are learning tools, such as, the devices from Leapfrog, and the potential for the child to learn more and possibly faster are a benefit, when is more too much?
Even if a child has not used a particular gadget, such as a cell phone, they can figure it out much quicker than some parents. I know of a case several years ago when a friend of mine bought her first iPhone (News - Alert). She was with her children, who were all under 10 years of age, at the Apple store. The iPhone was her first real smartphone that she could use to access the Internet and read her e-mails. The kids already knew that the phone could access the Internet and that they could play games on them from all of the commercials that they had seen on TV. She started going through the options, but her oldest kid wanted to see what games were on the phone. She gave him the phone and in a matter of minutes he had figured out how to access the installed games, how to connect to the Internet and how to look up game sites and download ring tones. Basically, he was showing his mom how to use her fancy new phone.
This is the time of year when most companies set their sights on children. If they can include something in their product that is focused to the child, then the parents are more likely to buy it. There are already a lot of reading tablets that children can use to download books, games and puzzles. With new operating systems coming out like Windows 8 and upgrades to existing ones, such as, Google (News - Alert) Nexus 4, a new line of gadgets cannot be far behind.
A website called Boldsky listed a few guidelines that make a lot of sense. It is good if your kid has a cell phone so that you can keep in contact in case of any problems. The phone does not need to have a camera or Internet access. The cell phone that your 10 year old carries with them should be used simply as a phone to make calls or text. When they are home from school, put the phone away. They do not need to use it at home. Most tablets have child lock systems. Take advantage of these features.
Gadgets are a great way to keep your children occupied while you take time for yourself, but they should not grow up surrounded by so many gadgets that every step they take or turn brings them in contact with something else that they can pick up and play with.
A recent Nielson study finds that in households owning a tablet computer and with children under 12, 70 percent of children use the tablet. 77 percent of these children are playing games, while 57 percent use the tablet for educational purposes. The rest of the most common responses include 55 percent of these children using the tablet for entertainment purposes; 43 percent to watch television and/or movies; and 41 percent to keep the child occupied while at a restaurant or event.
In March of this year, Rabbi Jason Miller wrote an article titled: Children and Technology: The Good, The Bad and the Dangerous. In it he states concerns that some children are spending too much time in front of a digital screen. Not only can this lead to a lack of actual physical activity, but since they spend so much time alone using the device, they don’t have much face to face social interaction with others.
As with anything in life, you have to draw a line and decide when enough is enough. Obviously each child is different and will respond in their own way, so the parent has to make sure their child is well rounded and has just enough of what is needed, including gadgets.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman