As technology advances, we see more and more children using electronic devices such as iPhones or tablets at a younger age, many as early as age two. While most use them for games, it is not uncommon for a toddler to know how to operate an iPhone or send out a tweet or Snapchat before they know how to walk. Should our parents be more aware of the amount of time their children spend on their electronic devices and the effect it has on them?
While most parents give their children their phones or tablets to play with to possibly keep them quiet during busy times, most do not know the developmental risks that come with this. The American Pediatrics Society looks down upon any screen time for children under the age of two because this is the age where the brain develops quickly.
“Children under two years of age learn best from real-world experiences and interactions, and each minute spent in front of a screen-based device is a minute when your child is not exploring the world and using their senses, which is extremely important in their developmental success,” said Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer for Leapfrog Enterprises.
According to ksl.com, most child psychologists argue that interactive apps can interfere with a child’s story comprehension. The apps can stunt a child’s early language development since they cannot adequately duplicate the expressions, tones, body language and gestures of a human speaker. These are crucial roles in teaching a child to communicate properly.
So what is the appropriate age to give a child their first cellphone or tablet? Cbsnews.com found that parents are offering their children cellphones when they are anywhere from 11-14 years of age.
“This is an age group where they are doing a lot of activities outside the home, like sports practices, after-school activities, going over to friends’ houses, some of them going to the mall on their own,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association. “Most parents we surveyed said they were getting the phone so their kids could stay in touch with them.” However, most adults would agree that this generation spends excessive amounts of time on their phones and do not engage in social face-to-face activity anymore.
“I actually think it depends on the parents and whether or not they limit their children to what they can do on their devices or set time limits for them. My younger siblings, ages four and five, have their own iPads, but they have educational apps that they play on. They also participate in sports and play outside, so they are not spending their whole day indoors,” said Charter Oak sophomore Andrew Barron. He explained that he believes eight years old is a good age to get a phone because children might need to reach their parents if they walk home from school, participate in after-school activities or are going out with friends.
“I think kids today are too absorbed in their technology and phones. I believe kids should be at least seven years old before using iPads or phones so they learn to socialize first. I also believe that if children are not mature enough to behave themselves on the Internet, then they should not be allowed access to it,” said sophomore Lesley Munoz.
“I believe parents really have to limit their children’s use of electronics so they do not grow up to be introverts. You can’t really put laws on who can buy tablets or phones for so it is really the parents’ obligation to make sure their kids are getting an equal amount of offline time,” said sophomore Roman Gabriel.
Whether children used technology for school purposes or personal use, most people agree that children should spend more time outside with others as opposed to sitting behind a screen all day. While technology will most likely help our society in the future, the younger generation needs live in the real world instead of a virtual one.