In an era where preschoolers can navigate through a smartphone better than some adults, it's clear that technology has profoundly influenced today's youngest kids. As parents, it's crucial to understand and guide this digital interaction to ensure our children are developing healthily. This article will explore how and when to use technology with your toddlers and preschool-age kids—including what will help them, and what will harm them.
Toddlers and Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against any screen time for children under 18 months, except for video-chatting. For children aged 2-5 years, it recommends no more than one hour per day of high-quality programs. These guidelines exist because excessive screen time can negatively affect a child's sleep, cognitive development, and physical health.
However, not all screen time is created equal. Passive screen time, like watching TV shows or movies, is different from interactive screen time, such as playing educational games or engaging with interactive books. The latter, when used correctly and in moderation, can support early learning.
Educational apps and games can help toddlers learn shapes, colors, numbers, and letters in a fun, interactive way. These platforms often use colors, sounds, and animation to make learning engaging and interesting. It's essential to choose age-appropriate, high-quality applications designed with input from child development experts. The key is active engagement, not passive consumption.
Toddlers, Technology and Play
Technology can foster creativity and problem-solving skills. Applications that allow children to create art, make music, or build structures digitally can ignite a child's imagination in ways not possible with traditional tools. Other apps teach coding concepts to preschoolers, planting the seeds for logic, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.
However, tech shouldn't replace traditional play—it should complement it. There are vital aspects of physical, social, and cognitive development that children learn through traditional, tactile play. Playing with blocks, for instance, helps with motor skills and spatial reasoning. Group play develops social skills. Running, jumping, and climbing are critical for physical health.
Toddlers and Social Technology
Technology also facilitates communication and connectivity, offering opportunities for families living apart to connect. Video calling apps allow children to engage with grandparents or other family members who live far away, fostering familial bonds.
Parental involvement is crucial in making the digital experience beneficial. Just like you would read a book with your child, sit with them when they're engaging with technology. Ask questions, point out things on the screen, and make the digital interaction a shared experience.
Toddlers and Tech Restrictions
It's essential to establish boundaries and rules around tech use from an early age. Create a balance between physical play, social interaction, and screen time. Tech-free zones or times at home can help in establishing these boundaries. Parental controls like Gryphon routers make it easy to create screen time restrictions without constant monitoring.
Becoming Better Digital Parents
Technology has an important role to play in early childhood education if used thoughtfully, responsibly, and in moderation. As parents, it's our role to ensure our children enjoy the benefits of technology without falling prey to its potential pitfalls. By striking the right balance, we can raise tech-savvy toddlers who are not just consumers of technology, but creators, collaborators, and responsible digital citizens. Try out Gryphon routers today to help you become the best digital parent you can be.