Technology Time Out for Children?

A little while ago I saw some fuss online about letting kids have/play with mobile and hand-held devices. I think this debate largely centers around whether or not young children, say aged 5-12, should be allowed to carry around their own smart phones. Some parents do this as a way to make sure they can always know where their child is and if they are OK, others potentially do it just because the kid complained enough and so they got a smart phone “so they would shut up”. I would say that is arguably not the best parenting, but I’m not a parent so I must digress.

I was turned onto this article, “10 Reasons Why I Will Continue to Give my Children Handheld Devices”, and I have to say, I think it makes some solid points.

The first point is “because banning things never, ever, ever works”. While I would said “never” is a strong word, there’s certainly plenty of evidence to suggest it’s not as effective as we wish it were.

The next two points are problem solving and technology skills. Both fair and relevant. The former doesn’t necessarily require hand held devices, but they can certainly help. As and my brother in law has said, “if you don’t raise kids with technology, they’ll be at a disadvantage by the time they get to school”. Which is part of the next point as well.

Reason 4 is that technology allows more ways to present the same information so all parts of each brain get a chance to get worked, which increases the likelihood of learning.

Points 5 and 6 are Interest and ensuring good brain development.

Reason 7 is one I am increasingly seeing the importance of – encouraging more girls to get involved and engaged with technology to increase their presence in STEM fields.

Here is the one part of the article that I really want to highlight, because I think it is the same way my sister feels with her kids. Reason #8 – Balanced Life:

I am 32 years old and still trying to figure out how to balance my technology life. When do I turn my phone off? When do I stop checking email? It is not only something I want to model for my children in my own practice, but it is something I also want them to experience on their own. We turn the iPad off when it is time to go to a basketball game. Or climbing. Or gymnastics. They don’t throw fits. They don’t cry for it. They understand that it is one part of their day.

Balance is so crucial in life. Finding it can be hard, and even once you do, you can’t always be guaranteed to keep it. Life happens. But it is important to teach kids (and everyone) moderation and variety. When I was younger, my dad pretty much let me play video games all the time (I didn’t really want to go out and play with other kids that much, I did sometimes but not as much as I could and possibly should have) and in college I definitely continued a more anti-social video games over people attitude. Now as an adult, the tables have totally turned, I’ve largely lost interest in games (and even to an extent, technology), but gained an interest in people and socialization.

Reason 9 is literacy, and technology is just one more tool for helping with that.

Reason 10 is Reality. As Megan Egbert (“Hipmombrarian”) so aptly puts it:

It is 2014. iPhones were introduced 7 years ago. Now, half of Americans own smartphones. We should probably embrace what is here and use it to our advantage, rather than fighting with reality.

So, go check out the article, since for a change I didn’t quote 3/4 of it in my recap.

Care to share your thoughts?