With our growing world in technology, one question I have asked myself lately has been, “How young is too young for a child to use an electronic device?” From the moment a child can begin to grasp objects in their hands, it’s like something gravitates them toward electronic gadgets of all kinds, especially our cell phones and tablets! We have put together some helpful tips on when to introduce your child to these technologies.
Wait until your child is at least 3 years of age
By age three, many children can benefit from the educational content found in different apps. These concepts use strategies such as repetition, and images and sounds that capture attention. Children learn best from real-world experiences and interactions. Each minute spent in front of one of these electronic devices, is a minute when your child is not exploring the world and using their senses. During the first few years of a child’s life, using their senses is extremely important in their developmental process.
Just as you would supervise your child while playing outdoors, it is just as important to monitor them while they are on an electronic device, especially at a young age. You can help your child get more out of a smartphone or tablet by sharing in the experience. Engage with your child as they try out a new app, ask questions about the game and point out different aspects of the content, in turn, this can help increase your child’s comprehension skills. By no means underestimate the learning power of reading a book with your child, or spending time exploring the outside. One great idea is to allow your child to take photos of bugs they may see with your phone, and then going online to read more about the insects they captured in pictures.
Limit Screen Time
Limiting screen time not only will help your child create a balance, but also keep in mind the risk of eye problems that too much screen time can cause. Try 30 minutes per sitting hour for 3 to 5 year olds, no more than an hour per sitting for a 6 to 7 year old.
It is important for parents to distinguish between educational and entertainment based content. There are many apps that focus and teach basic math, time, patterns, color recognition, and beginning steps to reading comprehension. Most apps have an age range listed on the app, keep in mind what your child can handle.
As your child gets older, and school work more demanding, the need to use a tablet in school will be greater. Take this time to truly enjoy spending quality time with your child. These first few years are years of great milestones that you will never get back. Enjoy each second while they are children, for we all know how time flies in a blink of an eye.