The debate on technology and toddlers is heated.
Parents live in constant doubt. Always questioning if what we are doing is helping or hindering our children. Technology does not help our struggle in ensuring we are doing what is best. On one hand, we want our children to navigate expertly through this digital land in which we live; but on the other hand, we fear that too much exposure will leave them defenseless in terms of interpersonal and communication skills. We fear that we are raising zombies, and that is the last thing a parent wishes for.
As a parent to a toddler, I am in favor of technology.
The role of the parent is much more influential than technology itself.
My biggest argument in relation to this topic is the fact that parents need to set the example for their children. Toddlers imitate what they see. They are naturally curious and are incredibly intelligent. It is in their make-up to copy what their parents are doing. This is why it is imperative for parents to practice what they preach. If we want to avoid raising zombies, then we (the parents) have to avoid becoming one. A study from Stirling University’s School of Education, found the most influential factor towards a child’s interest in technology is their parents.
“The technology did not dominate or drive the children’s experiences; rather their desires and their family culture shaped their form of engagement.”
If a toddler sees their parents in front of a screen all day, they are going to mimic that behavior. It is easy to place the blame on the technology itself, but ultimately it is the parent who holds the responsibility.
My husband and I allow our daughter to use the iPad and our iPhones. Most of the apps we have for her encourage the learning of letters and numbers. She has some that are puzzles, which are her favorite, as she loves to put things together. She also has flashcards, which help her practice putting words to pictures. With that being said, we are also very involved in her development. We read to her constantly, encourage interactive and imaginative play, and spend most of our days incorporating many different ways to help her learn. Like most things in life, finding balance is the key. She is also two-and-a-half, so her attention span lasts about ten minutes. As a digital native, she will never know life without technology. As her parent, it is my responsibility to manage her consumption.
In defense of tablet use, Helen Moylett, president of Early Education states,
“They can be really helpful and interesting tools if used in the right place to help us learn-and not all the time, or instead of other things.”
We live in a world that teaches the importance and the need for technology. As adults we are consumed by our phones and computers, so why do we think it will be any different for our children? With technology being such an integral part of our lives, it is impossible to deny our children the opportunity to embrace all it has to offer. Every new medium has been condemned as a threat to young children, yet we all managed to survive and become well-adjusted and functioning adults (for the most part!). We were told television would fry our brains, music was the devil, and now technology is creating zombies.
I will continue to allow my daughter to use the iPad, along with all the other activities we encourage such as: finger-painting, reading, coloring, endless games of hide and seek, jumping in the leaves and trips to the park. She doesn’t seem to be turning into a zombie thus far, so I suppose we are doing a pretty good job.
Roxby, Phillipa. “Does Technology Hinder or Help Toddlers Learning?” BBC Health. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.