Make plenty of time to do activities together as a family, rather than relying on electronic gadgets to entertain your child
Recently, a study regarding mobile devices usage in kids was conducted in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, where over 2,500 parents of kids aged between 3 to 8 years took part in it. Through the study, most Southeast Asian parents expressed their worries regarding their kids’ device usage patterns and what they could do to keep this under control.
Sara Pinel, the Marketing and Operations Director of Singapore-based information, communications and technology company Tekkie Help, has some useful tips to share with regards to usage of devices in kids.
Choose quality apps
It’s not just a case of handing over your phone or tablet; it’s finding the right quality of apps that is important. Pick ones which feed your child’s interests and strengths, while pushing the boundaries to support them to explore and learn new things.
Take the time to do the research and test them out. Choose a variety of activities: stories, puzzles, music, phonics, maths, role-play, art etc.
Get involved with your child’s use of devices and technology
Try to dedicate some time to use technology together with your child. Watch your kids playing a game or navigating a website.
Ask them questions to spur their learning and encourage critical thinking. If they are stuck on one level that’s become too easy, ask if they know how to move up and help if necessary.
Be a role model
Your attitude towards IT is important in influencing the relationship your children will have with it. All too often, parents can become so absorbed in a device that it becomes a barrier to communication with their children.
Think about the message you are sending next time you answer the phone in the middle of a game or surf the internet when you are on the bus with your children.
More tips on the next page…
Other than the advice presented by Sarah on the previous page, here are some more useful tips when it comes to making your kid’s device use a meaningful experience.
- Limit screen time to not more than 30 minutes to an hour a day.
- Balance the use of high-tech devices with other healthy, everyday activities such as outdoor play, going for walks with your kids or reading them books.
- Try not to use devices as baby-sitters. But having said that, there are days when as parents, we all need time to reconnect with our partners or have a moment to ourselves. In such a situation, letting your kid use your Smartphone or tablet until you take a breather is nothing to feel guilty about.
- Teach your kids about online safety from a very young age, especially with regard to information-sharing, spending and questionable content.
Teach your children how to be safe online
- Encourage open discussion about these subjects — tell your kids to ask you any questions they may have.
- With older kids, set firm house rules about device usage, related to content and duration of use etc.
Be savvy about electronic devices and technology yourself to make for a more meaningful experience all around
Parents, technology is here to stay and is only going to get more advanced and feature more heavily in our lives as our kids grow older.
So the best way to make technology — in this case, that related to devices — is to educate yourself about it and familiarise yourself with new apps, devices, social networks and services whenever you can.
This will let you, as parents, make better choices and more informed decisions when it comes to how much you choose to expose your kids to technology and various devices.
Technology through device use can be a powerful tool when it comes to information and education, and when used properly, can immensely benefit your child and you.
Do you let your kids use electronic devices? What are your main concerns about device use by kids?