Tuesday, June 18 2024

60% of children under the age of two use the smartphone of their parents.
We are talking about digital natives – modern children born with technology
in hand who spend increasing amounts of time attached to electronic
devices. Is it fair to leave them in the care of illuminated screens? There
are those few who support technology and that majority who think it is
damaging. But is this really the case?

Digital Children: Pros and Cons

Today, there are children’s tablets designed to contain apps for
educational purposes dedicated to different age groups. Using technology,
little ones can learn foreign languages, or exercises in logic and freely
express their imagination and creativity.

It is undeniable that using technological devices from a young age can make
it possible to develop superior cognitive skills; however, on-going
exposure to diversified and stimulating information can reduce the ability
to concentrate.

Sociologists and psychologists point out that the benefits of using digital
devices for children in a careful and supervised manner are greater than
the risks.

The underlying problem therefore is not so much technology but the use and
approach of parents who sometimes exploit technology as a distraction from
the tantrums and demands of children.

Overwhelmed with colours and animations, parents can devote themselves to
their activities without being disturbed. But these modern babysitters also
pose a health risk to children that increase over time, including:

• Psychological isolation of children;

• Deterioration of children’s eyesight due to prolonged use of
technological tools.

Children’s use of technology: studies

A survey conducted by the Trieste Children’s Health Center in collaboration
with the Paediatric Cultural Association revealed that 60% of parents allow
their 2-year-old children to use their cell phones. But this early passage
into the virtual world damages children’s growing processes. Children need
to understand reality through all five senses.

In short, if it is true that we are talking about digital natives and that
the advancement of technology cannot be slowed down, it is just as true
that children must have proper psychophysical development and the spasmodic
use of smartphones and tablets does not help them all.

Their activities must be monitored by their parents, as pointed out by the
guidelines of the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP):

  • For children younger than 18 months,
    avoid use of screen media other than video chatting. Parents of
    children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce
    digital media should choose high quality programming, and watch it with
    their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years,
    limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents
    should co-view media with children to help them understand what they
    are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older,
    place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types
    of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate
    sleep, physical activity and other behaviours essential to health.
  • For children of every age:
    Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as
    well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.

Obviously, beyond the guidelines, it is crucial for children to have a
continuous relationship with their parents and peers, based on dialogue and
not just relegated to technology.

Responsible and guided use is the best opportunity and will allow this
generation to experience modernity without losing sight of reality and
without missing out on childhood experience – even knees scraped while
chasing a ball.

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