Technology has become one of the largest parts of our daily lives. We spend more time on a phone, tablet, or computer than we do sitting down to eat. Classrooms utilize technology to help children learn, and those children are required to use technology as they go through school, but that doesn’t mean all technology is right for a child to use at all stages of life.
Depending on your child’s age, certain things, like laptops and internet access, aren’t appropriate for his developmental state. Your kindergartener isn’t going to need the same tech as a college student. Here are some guidelines for making sure your child is exposed to and learning to use the right technology at the right time in his life.
Around 2-3 years old, your toddler can learn from using age-appropriate apps on a smartphone. Games that teach numbers and shapes are great for a child of this age, but make sure to balance it all out with some real toys to teach those same things.
Luckily, tablets are good for teaching children around 3-4 years old hand-eye coordination. Using this technology also gives them an early leg up for when they become older and need to be familiar with the touch screen technology. In addition, smartphone apps are better at teaching children than tv shows because they require a higher level of engagement, but that doesn’t mean you should let your child sit on a tablet all day long. The blue light is hard on our eyes so make sure your child has some time away from any screens to give his eyes a rest.
Computers are being used in many classrooms so children need to be familiar with those in addition to tablets. There are several good websites out there for children to peruse while they become comfortable with using a computer mouse and interface. Of course, make sure to implement parental controls on your computer and monitor your child’s internet activity to protect them from those dangerous dark alleys on the internet.
Older Elementary, Middle School, and Junior High
As your child grows up and his school work becomes more demanding, he will need to have access to a computer frequently in order to do research for class assignments, projects, and papers. Children of this age group can also benefit from using a tablet to do schoolwork. You should still monitor your child’s internet use, and talk to him about the dangers of the internet so he understands the importance of being careful.
The other side of this is social media use. Most children, even as young as kindergarten, have social media accounts to connect with their friends and classmates. Whether or not you allow your child to use social media is a choice only you can make, but allowing older children (around pre-teen and up) to use social media can be beneficial for them. Social media can be a good way to make connections, to read about the world, and keep in touch with what is going on within their little part of the planet.
High School and College Students
Teenagers and young adults need access to computers almost constantly. High schools require students to use the internet for class work daily, to type class work and papers, and apply for college, scholarships, and internships. It’s not a bad idea to provide your child with his own personal computer, or at least a personal tablet to use in conjunction with the family computer. This allows him to use it as long as necessary to complete schoolwork without keeping the rest of the family from using the computer.
College-age students need a private laptop. While universities provide computer labs and unlimited computer access, the computers are open to all students. Which means coming by an open computer can be difficult during certain times, and it can be easy to lose work on public computers. A tablet can also be beneficial for college students. They are easier on students to cart around campus, and can be used to take notes in class in less obtrusive ways.
Since our use of technology only increases with each day, it's natural for children to use it frequently too. You can make this easier and safer on them by implementing the guidelines above if you feel it is appropriate for your child. Ultimately, the decision of what technology to provide your child and how frequently he is allowed access while at home is entirely up to you.