In the News
Points to Ponder Before a Tech Purchase for Kids
Parents mulling whether to get their children a cell phone, iPod or other electronic gadget have more to think about than just the gadget’s price and their kids’ desires, child development experts say. Among the things they say parents should consider:
–Devices often have a wide range of potential uses beyond the ones that parents want their kids to access. If a device has a feature parents don’t want their kids to use, such as downloading videos from the Internet to their cell phone or text messaging at all hours, they need to figure out how to discourage their kids from using it — or consider not buying the device.
–With Internet-connected devices in particular, kids face a range of potential dangers or exposure to inappropriate materials. Parents should figure out if and how they plan to monitor their kids’ online activities and instill in them safe practices.
–Time kids spend with gadgets can displace time they spend socializing with family, friends and peers, doing physical activities or schoolwork. It’s important that kids maintain a healthy balance of activities.
–We don’t know yet the long-term effects on children of using such devices. Researchers have just started trying to assess whether using a laptop at a young age or learning how to text on a cell phone could have positive or negative long-term consequences. Early exposure to such technologies could be preparing kids well for 21st century careers — or inhibiting their development in other areas.
–It’s OK to say “no.” Some kids are clearly not old enough to appreciate particular gadgets or may want them for the wrong reasons, such as simply having what their friends have.
–But don’t be afraid to say, “yes.” Technology is so ubiquitous that it’s impossible to completely shield children from it. Some experts think that many devices encourage new kinds of creativity, social interaction and problem solving. Not to mention that many of the gadgets are cool — and fun.
Source: San Jose Mercury News