Every year, Christmas season urges parents to go on a holiday gift quest; we want to pamper our kids to something they really-really want, but sometimes their wish lists may include things that we do not want to give them. Digital goods fall into that category that not every parent feels right buying as a Christmas present. However, is exposure of your children to digital media really that bad? Provided you are not abusing the time you get when your kids are calm and fixed on their iPads and tablets; given your kids spend plenty of time outdoors; given your kids learn how to read and count with these digital assistants; given your kids will grow more computer literate than you will ever get – what is wrong with giving your kid an iPad or Android tablet for Christmas?
Admit the fact that your 4-year-old handles your device better than your parents, and at some point you will have to accept that he or she handles your gadgets better than you. Kids are quick learners, and we live in a digital world. We work, learn and play with the help of digital devices, so why artificially ban access to it for our children? Face it, monitors, computers, tablets and iPads are not going anywhere; the technology is here to stay. On the contrary, tech developers strive to produce better, faster, smarter devices and software. We have learning apps that succeed better than some parents in teaching small children the basics of alphabet and numbers. We have apps for dyslexic kids that help them feel at ease with their routines. We have apps that assist students in their research and enhance overall productivity.
Some schools in developed countries are switching to digital media in the educational process: e-books instead of good old paper books (saving trees, by the way), online presentations and classrooms, online education and degrees obtained after online courses, not to mention that a good part of humanity works online. What is one of the most widespread occupations of successful freelancers? Right, website building and promotion, web design, Internet marketing. There is no way the process can be reversed, so why deny kids the opportunity to master the digital world?
Having your kids use your device puts at risk some of your valuable data; little fingers are smart and quick, and the next thing you know your preschooler made your home screen look pretty by hiding all application icons. Your financial information and private data may be at risk if your kids use your personal device to go online, use Facebook, buy games, etc.
A British project the Wild Thing wants to drag young kids outside and let them re-discover the benefits of playing outdoors: watching stars, planting seeds, bicycling, observing nature and playing with their parents and peers. They strongly object against excessive exposure of younger generations to digital media. If projects like these are needed to remind parents about such gift ideas as a bicycle or a stick, the situation is probably bad.
A research by Childwise shows trends for three quarters of 5 to 16-year olds having a computer, smarpthone or a tablet of their own; seven in ten 7 to 16-year olds have unrestricted access to Internet from their own rooms; the kids having access to digital media use Internet for at least 2 hrs a day, with overall exposure to electronic screens of 4 to 6 hours daily. Some HR managers complain about the increasing amount of barely literate applicants losing job opportunities because ‘thy wrt in txt spk’ their resumes.
That is one good reason to buy a device that would be totally your kid’s. Load it with parental control app, plenty of ebooks and educational apps, spice it with Angry Birds, Despicable Me and Santa Tracker – voila, the best Christmas present ever! Don’t forget to sync the device with an email you have access to, so that you see what applications your kids download.
Giving your child an iPad, or a tablet for Christmas does not seem such a bad idea if you consider the benefits of digital media instead of focusing on the negative side. Kids get exposed to harmful content when left unsupervised by their parents, so don’t let that happen. There are applications that protect your children from offensive content when they browse and learn online – we will publish a concise overview of those soon.
Moderation and Guidance
Instead of letting your kids go astray in digital media, be their guide and mentor. We genuinely hope our readers regularly remember to spend some quality time with their kids without digital media, as well as encourage physical activity outdoors. Moderation is the key in everything, including Internet. So, are your kids getting digital gifts this Christmas?