As technology rapidly infiltrates our lives, many believe we are in danger of raising a generation of overweight and unmotivated children who have no concept of how to play creatively.
According to mother of three, Teresa Johnson, the overuse of technology is already affecting many children’s ability to socially interact with their peers.
“You have to wonder what is wrong when you organise a play date and kids as young as 2 yrs old refuse to play with your children because they would rather play Xbox or their iPad,” she says. “I don’t see a problem with older children using technology in moderation, but some of the kids I have seen are not even toilet trained, yet they know how to search YouTube and show little interest in normal kid’s games such as ‘hide and seek’ or ‘tiggy’.”
On the other hand, Jacinta Riley is proud of the fact that her 3-year-old daughter is already computer literate.
“Provided you monitor their usage and have all the appropriate safety software in place there’s really no reason to hold them back,” she says.
“There’s no avoiding it these days, so it’s important to be educated as a parent, so you can foresee any possible dangers.”
And in terms of using electronic devices to keep children occupied, Jacinta believes it’s no different from handing them a colouring book and pencils. “There are times when it’s simply unavoidable,” she says. “I’d much rather give my child an iPad for half an hour than suffer the consequences. It’s not only disruptive to me, it also inconveniences other people when children are constantly whinging and throwing tantrums around them.”
In addition to the social implications, perhaps the most important factor to consider when introducing a child to technology is safety. Not only do we as parents need to consider the exposure to inappropriate imagery, we also need to be aware that the earlier a child becomes accustomed to social media the sooner they are potentially at risk of anti-social behaviour such as cyber bullying.
Now with recent surveys revealing that Australian children are amongst the youngest and most prolific internet users in the world, It’s more important than ever to be well informed.
According to recent study, AUkids Online, the average Australian child starts using the internet at just 8 years of age – making them amongst the youngest in the 26-nation survey.
In addition to this, a report released by Senator Stephen Conroy titled ‘Tweens, Teens and Technology Report’, revealed that children are adopting technology much faster than expected. In fact, 67% of tweens (children ages 8 to 12) currently use a social media site while more alarmingly, 13% have admitted being “friends” with people they don’t actually know online.
Like everything in life, technology requires balance. While it’s important for children to be educated and entertained – there has to be limits. We also need to ensure that in our quest for a minute’s peace, we aren’t depriving them of the opportunity to learn those old fashioned virtues such as courtesy, patience and self-reliance.
For more information on the “Tweens, Teens and Technology Report” visit: www.mcafeecybered.com/cybered