Amy Williams is a journalist and mother in California. She is passionate about the subject of kids and technology and is always striving to find a healthy balance. Today Amy discusses how smartphones are so pervasive, they have managed to find their way into the hands of… daycare children? How do you know when is the best time to introduce children to technology? Amy shares her experience with technology and young children. If you enjoy this post, follow her on Twitter for more!
As a parent, trying to wrangle your kid while competing with the speed of digital technology can be challenging. It seems that every young mind is nose deep in a handheld device. This didn’t completely sink in until I noticed that all the kids in my child’s daycare class owned a smartphone, except mine.
After I pictured smartphone company CEOs rolling around in piles of profits from completing their worldwide domination, I began to feel pangs of guilt. It seemed ridiculous for a three or four year old to walk around with such an advanced computer and yet, it seemed not so ridiculous at the same time.
Experts Say Preschool Is the Time
Building imaginary castles out of blocks could be a thing of the past once your child hits preschool age. Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer for Leapfrog Enterprises, recommends introducing electronic devices, such as a smartphone, as early as three years old. She comments, “by age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content.” (Educational content is the key phrase here.)
The Big Picture
As my child’s surrounding world continues to beckon more and more for him to enter the digital race, I had to be sure I wasn’t going to just succumb to the masses. It seems that many parents give their toddler a smartphone to pose as an electronic babysitter. Sure, it’s easy to judge such a move, but looking at the big picture may reveal that this decision is not so bad after all.
Put a device in a four year old’s hands without any explanation and by complete instinct, many are capable of maneuvering it faster and more efficiently than an adult. Why, then, would you not want a child to excel with such a tool?
Keeping a Watchful Eye
I knew that if I was going to attempt giving my son a smartphone, there would have to be some rules. In addition, the device would need to be protected by something short of bulletproof glass and kevlar.
Every parental control would be implemented and a clear understanding of who he would be able to call would be diligently explained. Also, as Dr. Jaynes mentioned, educational content would be loaded and encouraged to play.
Lessons to Hit The Ground Running
There are many reasons to give your child a smartphone. A major one is safety. This electronic tether offers a lifeline like no other generation ever imagined experiencing. Some may call it “helicopter parenting,” but speak to victims of abduction and chances are, they would probably agree that having a smartphone could have been a possible preventative measure. This includes tracking and other off site supervision.
Yet there are other reasons your preschooler may benefit from holding this device. It is obvious that living in this digital age requires always being on the cutting edge of technological advancement. Therefore, enacting and carefully monitoring a smartphone for your young child means that they will most likely ‘hit the ground running.’ They will be able to digitally maneuver themselves more efficiently as they grow, surpassing those that were not given the opportunity. Some of the skills that may be honed include:
● Problem solving
● Technological skills
● School expectations
● New interests
● Proper digital etiquette
● Parent-child connection
My husband and I decided to give our four year old son a smartphone. We made sure to set strict ground rules and make him understand the importance of such a device. It feels good to know that before he is numbed to so many aspects of handheld devices, we are able to teach him the proper way (or as best we feel is proper) to handle it.
It has already become a positive experience as he allows us to get involved and get excited about all his new discoveries. Hopefully, he will be the kid in daycare that shares his digital lessons and helps perpetuate a more responsible, conscientious digital generation.