For Filipino professionals, tech gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets, are indispensable. They keep us connected with our coworkers, our clients, and, most especially, our family. But is it appropriate for kids to handle the gadgets we use every day?
The Case for Giving
Numerous parents think gadgets are okay. Many Filipino parents are already giving their kids tablets for entertainment and allow the children to play with their smartphones. In fact, 38% of children under two have used a mobile media device. It’s a small price for a moment’s peace and quiet.
But their use doesn’t end with entertainment. These gadgets can be installed with apps that help with brain development, just like productivity apps used for work. Educational games can provide a leg-up for kids, letting them learn concepts in a very entertaining way.
Lastly, tech gadgets help kids become familiar with mobile technology. Familiarity begets confidence, which will allow them to perform better when they eventually use mobile devices in school or the workplace.
The Case for Waiting
On the other hand, many disagree with giving gadgets to children. A noteworthy example is Steve Jobs, who did not allow his kids to have iPads despite shaping mobile computing and releasing the first commercially successful tablet.
Immersing a child in the digital world may stunt their natural growth because play and socialization are important learning experiences. Kids who are not able to play with others often end up depressed, narcissistic, and less creative. Prolonged exposure, even to cute pets on social media, can also result in disorientation, anxiety, and technology addiction.
But the greatest danger is the bullies and child predators on the web. Unlike in the real world where people’s actions and faces are easily recognizable, the Internet makes it easy to hide through various networks and channels on social media. In the Philippines, a computer-generated image of a kid lured 1,000 predators globally. Young kids are helpless and have no way to understand that they are being exploited. And they will not be able to provide proof of bullying.
Pediatricians advise introducing children to any tech gadgets, even the TV, only after the age of two years. After that, it’s a matter of preference. Many experts prefer to postpone the introduction to digital media as long as possible, but they also understand that its benefits are considerable.
No matter what age, it’s important for you, the parent, to monitor the content which your kids are consuming. You have to ensure that they consume good content, such as educational shows and games, and help them avoid the bad ones. Just being there, watching what your kids do, and teaching them the ins and outs of the digital world, will help them grow strong and happy.
This Christmas, think deeply and give your child a gift for the right reasons.
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