There is an increased usage of tablet and smart device by young children, especially toddlers. Meanwhile there is a lot of controversy about usage of these gadgets with both pros and cons about them. Technology plays a big role in education and other fields today and we cannot tune it out completely. So try to make use of it in the best possible way. I am no expert, but based on my observations and experience with my two children, I have learnt to make use of these gadgets as an educative and informative tool. The sad truth is that kids do not get outdoor playtime or opportunity to play with other children on a daily basis.
Apart from their daily study time, drawing/colouring time and other playtime, I let them play, explore, watch and have fun with their tablet or smart devices or PlayStation with ‘Terms and Conditions Apply’. The two most important ‘terms and conditions’ to let them use any gadgets are:
Restrict the Screen Time – I allow 1 to 1.30 hours of screen time for kids in a weekday which includes using the smart devices, tablets, PlayStation and television. They have to choose either one of them for the day. This way they don’t end up immersed in a gadget for hours ignoring other activities. During the weekend when they stay at home, they get to use the gadgets for little more time. Mostly they spend their weekends outdoor in a play area, classes, or outdoor activities.
Keep a strict watch on the Content – The most important way in which you can monitor kids’ screen time is by keeping an eye on the content they consume. The content should be age appropriate and kid friendly. Always let the kids use the gadgets under adult supervision. Never let them have their media time when they are with their babysitter/nanny, grandparents or any adult who does not have exposure to these gadgets. Always have an ear and eye on the content being viewed. Let them access only age appropriate devices. Never download apps/books/pictures/videos which are not appropriate for the kids to watch on the device that they have access to. Have the download settings or any other settings password protected. Apply age-appropriate content filters wherever possible. Try to watch the shows with them and explain them which are the good things to be followed and which content needs to be ignored and why.
There are a lot of educational apps/websites available for tablets, such as puzzles, memory games, story books, rhymes, age-appropriate flash cards and many more. There are a good number of TV shows and cartoons which are educative and entertaining too. The National Geographic and Discovery channels have a lot of good shows about animal life, sea life, nature, oceans, countries, planets and many more. Nick Jr., and Disney Junior shows are mostly informative, interactive and entertaining for the kids. Gaming sonsoles have various age-appropriate games, educative CDs, and dance shows. They can learn various things, dance, sing, play and have fun as well.
My kindergartener does her schoolwork on an online website. They are required to use gadgets for their everyday education right from their preschool. This provides them with an exposure to various fields of study and helps them develop their interests at an early age. Therefore, rather than completely shutting them from these devices, we can provide proper guidance and put restrictions to help them use the best of these technologies and further their advancement.
Archana Selvam – a busy mom of a super active kindergartener and a cute naughty toddler. After eight active years of software programming, has taken a break from the IT industry and has chosen to program her family. She has used this time and space to explore motherhood and cooking. She blogs at http://archieskitchen.blogspot.com/.