The right age to introduce gadgets to children

What is the right age for a child to start using a PC, laptop, tablet or a smartphone? Read on to know more.

By Arun Sharma

The right age to introduce gadgets to children

Whether you like it or not, with the influx of technology into our lives, it is impossible to keep your child away from smartphones and computers. Sooner or later, he will be exposed to these gadgets. So, what’s the right age for introducing him to these futuristic devices and how?

The American Academy of Paediatrics issued a policy statement in 1999 addressing media use in children. A part of their statement recommends – “Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of two years”. But this statement was issued before the first iPad was introduced, which revolutionised the computer industry. Let’s see what experts have to say.

Wait until preschool:

Most experts recommend waiting until a child is at least two years old. They believe that it is best for a young child to spend time exploring the world around him and play with real objects that he can hold and feel. Screen-based activities prevent him from doing this, thereby limiting his real-world experiences. So, the longer you wait, the better it will be for your child.

But, Dr Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer for Leapfrog Enterprises, says, “However, by age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content. This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.” She further says, “There are many games and interactive activities on mobile devices that are not necessarily about school subjects but still useful for children and beyond purely entertainment.”

Supervise gadget use:

A child should play with smartphones, tablets or computers only under parental supervision. Supervising your child when he is interacting with these gadgets gives you the opportunity to mould his experience. While your child is trying out a new app or watching a programme on TV, you can ask him questions and explain how to use the app in a better way or what’s happening on TV. This will allow your child to understand things in a better way.

Limit screen time:

Jeannie Galindo, supervisor of instructional technology for the Manatee County School District in Florida, says, “I would recommend no more than a half an hour per sitting for a four- to five-year-old, no more than an hour per sitting for a six- to seven-year-old.” But as your child grows older, you can allow her to spend more time with gadgets. However, you should keep in mind that reading books and exploring the outdoors are also important for her overall development.

The right age to introduce gadgets to children

Choose appropriate content:

A smartphone or tablet helps a child connect to the world and provides him with opportunities to learn a variety of things. Memory games, puzzles, drawing and music apps, etc., improve his thinking and creative skills. Therefore, it is important for you to know the difference between education and entertainment-based content. Remember, valuable experience depends on the content your child is exposed to.

Assimilating technology into the daily life of your child the right way can give him immense benefits. It can change the way he thinks, learns, understands and interacts with his environment. 


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