Techie Toddlers

15 Feb

  

On Valentine’s day (as luck would have it) I found myself sitting in a doctor’s waiting room filled with ill droopy-eyed children, including my 9 month-old Rocco. I thought to myself, this room is not as loud and active as it usually is.  Then I realized why, several of the kids were being distracted/entertained with a gadget of some sort, Nintendo DS, iPhone, iPod etc. One of these kids being my own 2 1/2-year-old Rockford. It got me thinking, when did our kids become so tech savvy? Is that a good or bad thing? When is technology too much for young children?

If that wasn’t enough at one point in the waiting area Rockford needed to go pee, but he was being amused by a fish tank filled with different colorful fish and this made him say to me, “Mom can you pause it?” I repeated this back to him to make sure I heard him right and after he nodded I said, “I can’t pause a fish tank.” Yes, I thought, my boy is a techie toddler.

This concept of technology and toddlers continues to emerge throughout our world. There is debate and support on both sides of the fence that continue to derive inconclusive results.  Whatever side of the fence you stand, there is no denying the immense use of technology on a day-to-day basis for us and our kids.   Let me elaborate by using my own personal lifestyle. We wake up and I sit Rocco on his high chair to watch “Your Baby Can Read” video on our VHS player. After his video, Rockford gets to watch one of his “educational” DVDs. He can actually  put in the videos and DVDs himself and rewind, stop and eject (pretty scary). I then grab my laptop and open it to visit the usual websites, Gmail, WordPress and Facebook. That is, unless I already grabbed my iPhone next to my bed when I woke up. Throughout the day we will use the radio, laptop (free kids YouTube videos), iPhone (myself and Rockford) and usually we’ll watch some tv with daddy at night. This is our lifestyle.

Perhaps my lifestyle offends you or just doesn’t align with yours. Perhaps you are more technology dependant than we are. Well, wherever you stand, studies and researches will support you. Point in case, this e-article written by Robert Booth, Video games are good for children- EU report states, “A report from the European parliament concluded yesterday that computer games are good for children and teach them essential life skills. [EU reported] video games can stimulate learning of facts and skills such as strategic  thinking, creativity, cooperation and innovative thinking, which are important skills in the information society.”  Interesting, I guess this can account for how quickly Rockford learned his USA states and capitals after playing with my iPhone application “Stack the States”.

Are we then depriving our children of “essential life skills” that they will need in the future if we take these gadgets away? The other day a good friend of mine was recapping a charter school’s parent orientation she attended. She knew it was a Spanish emergence school, but was alarmed to learn that the school instructs the child in all 4 languages “English, Spanish, Chinese, and Technology”. No lie, this is what was stated as they toured the high-tech state of the art school. Is that where our kids are headed? Should we be equipping them more to excel in tomorrow’s education institution and workforce? Well, there are researchers who beg to differ.

In her article titled, Kids and Tech: How much is too much?  Jennifer Le Claire quotes Mali Mann, M.D., adjunct clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, “In the past, we only had to be concerned about too much TV exposure. Now we have video games, computers and cell phones. It is overwhelming for young children and creates patterns of behaviors similar to addiction patterns.  Their brains get used to too much auditory and visual stimulation — and in the absence of these stimulations, they do not know what to do with themselves,” she told TechNewsWorld. “They get anxious, restless, bored and aggressive.” 

Does this mean we should do away with all technology that surrounds them to avoid “addiction patterns”?  I think that will be next to impossible to do since technology is everywhere from our alarm clocks to microwaves to our transportation. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to be addicted to my microwave or driving.

So what is the right thing for our kids? I believe there is a happy medium and I believe Le Claire correctly quoted Leah Klungness, Ph.D., psychologist, when she stated, ” Parents should supervise their children’s use of technology.” It’s not rocket science. I mean, most of us do this on a day-to-day basis whether our kids are in the bathtub, playing outside or eating. Why would this be any different? Also, a noteworthy point mentioned in Le Claire’s article was “practicing what you preach”. If we don’t want our kids to be tech junkies, then we shouldn’t model that behavior for them. I know this is easier said than done, trust me.  There is no denying our future is highly impacted with technology, but that doesn’t mean our kids should be submerged with gadgets.

My bottom line goes back to my son using my iPhone app to learn his states and capitals. He has learned his states and capitals at 2 1 /2 years old. This game is fun and he is learning at the same time. However, he not only used this game to learn his states and capitals. I also got him a great states and capital kit ,that includes a map and cd filled with catchy song,s as well as picked up some great USA map puzzles at the Dollar Tree. I believe collectively, this enhanced his learning. Therefore, my bottom line is this, using technology as a “tool to enhance” rather than a “substitution” is key when deciding when and for how long it is ok for a toddler to use. At least this is what we will continue to practice in my home.  Let’s hear your thoughts.

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  1. In The News: 72% of Children Aged 3-to-5 Use the Internet for 30+ Minutes Every Day | Online Social Savvy - March 1, 2011

    […] Techie Toddlers (trainingupmyboys.wordpress.com) […]

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