Is technology good or bad for young children?
This question is on a lot of people’s minds. If you’ve ever seen a child with a touchscreen computer like a smartphone or an iPad, it’s easy to understand why. The devices seem to enchant kids like few things that have come before – reliably absorbing them for a surprisingly long time. And good luck taking one away! (Angry baby…)
Many parents experience conflicting feelings about their kids’ powerful attraction to touchscreen computers. On the one hand, it can be challenging (and exhausting) trying to keep a child content all day long – especially during long car trips or waits at restaurants and the doctor’s office. Having a reliable “high tech pacifier” sometimes comes in very handy. And the fact that kids can engage with interactive apps instead of just passively viewing videos means that they might even benefit somehow, by learning problem solving skills through games, for example, or expressing themselves through digital finger painting. On the other hand, many parents worry about the opportunity costs of “screen time” – that is, time when kids aren’t exercising their bodies, interacting with other people, or experiencing the “real” world. Others fear that the devices may in fact be too engaging – that once a child has visited the world of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninjas they might never want to come back… The apparent paradox of digital technology
Parents are all over the map on how to manage their kids’ access to touchscreen computers. At one extreme, some kids have unrestricted, unmonitored use of their own personal devices and spend tens of hours each week with them. At the opposite extreme, some families try to keep their kids completely “screen-free” for as many years as possible. Parents frequently ask some version of the following question: How should I manage my child’s time in the digital world so it doesn’t interfere with their understanding and appreciation of the “real” world? I plan to...
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