Small Talk #25: Tots & Tech

Raising a child in today’s online world

tech devices surround us

too many tech toys: credit Flikr.com

Smartphones, iPads, television, X-Box, and computers surround us!

Up until last year parents were advised not to let their under 2’s near these devices, let alone play with them and parents of preschoolers were advised to limit their kids’ “screen” time to 2 hours/day or less!

Nowadays if you go out and about, it is not unusual to see babies of less than 12 months interacting in some way or another with a mobile device, either playing simple games or watching a video that mom or dad has downloaded onto their phone to keep their child out of mischief!

Below are  some simple ideas to keep in mind as our children move forward into an ever-increasing technology-oriented world:

1: Do no harm!

parents rule - do no harm

Do no harm! credit Flikr.com

So, we may ask – is it harmful to allow our children to play with electronic devices when they are so young? Those in the know will tell you that a child’s brain undergoes the most development from birth to 3 years and that it is, therefore, vital that they are exposed to a wide range of experiences during this critical period. And nowadays we can’t ignore the fact that those experiences have to include those electronic devices.

2: Parenting is the same as it’s always been

rule for parents - do no harm

Loving parents credit GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Parenting hasn’t changed, even though great technological strides forward have been made – parents still have to choose what is good and what is bad for their child…including time their child has with electronic devices. Parents should think about how their child spends his day and everything that he does in that day. Is there plenty of time for being outdoors, moving, around, quiet play as in reading a book, singing songs and so on? Unstructural play, where a child is playing indoors or outdoors and using their imagination, teaches the child to be creative and also develops their independence. Playing with other children develops language and social skills which every child will eventually need. Virtual play on an electronic toy/smartphone/iPad can also teach useful skills, and video-chatting with an absent relative can also teach the child invaluable language skills. Parents should also be aware that not all apps which are purported to be “educational” have the back up to support their claim! So check out their credentials before buying!

3: Role model

bad role model

Role model? credit Flikr.com

Being a role model for your child is also important. Children tend to copy what they see adults doing. So parents have to be mindful of the time they spend on their phones or iPads and, importantly, when they do so! It is so important to spend time talking to each other and listening to what your children have to say!

4: Tech free time

no phones, no tablets at table

Enjoying tech free time: credit pixabay.com

There should always be set aside “tech free” zones and times, such as the dinner table where meals should form part of the family fun time and talk time not with one parent’s nose buried in playing a game and the other messaging a friend! The onus is on you, the parent, to set an example for your child.

In the end, technology is here with us and it will take us and our children into the future! Ideally for the little ones we, the parents, should aim to achieve a healthy balance between the unstructural playtime with or without playmates and the virtual world of electronic devices in order to get the best out of both the “real” life world we live in and the “virtual” environment and all that it can teach us.

As this is my last blog for 2017 my wish it that the spirit of Christmas  giving and loving be with everyone. For those of you with little ones, make the most of being on holiday with them – give them lots of love, lots of hugs and cuddles and I’ll be back in the New Year with more Small Talk!!

As always, you can connect with me either by commenting in the box below this blog, clicking on the facebook “send us a message” or email me at lydia@gofotolifestylenewbornphotography.co.za. I look forward to hearing from you!

Yours in newborn photography

Lydia

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