How to Organize a Child’s Interaction with Technology

Optimal interaction with technology is a parent’s dream. We’d like to imagine a world where we seamlessly integrate our babies and toddlers into the effective use of tablets and smartphones, with all the benefits and none of the wasted time. A dream indeed!

As any technology user would know, technology, while saving us time, can also be the main source of our inefficiency. Hours spent on social media, video games or just simple click and go exploration. While this will always remain a facet of technology, there are some ways we can help our children avoid this trap. If at an early age we organize our child’s interaction with technology, we can hope to set up important building blocks in their future use. Here are four important principles to consider when organizing a child’s interaction with technology.

Routine

As any parent would agree, routine is one of the most important aspects in raising a young child. As such, combining routine with technological interaction is key in healthy skill development. Routine in itself could talk many forms. A child could only use the technology at a certain point in the day, early morning for example. A parent could also use the interaction with technology as a reward. Or even, a child could be given a series of tasks technological tasks to complete within a time frame. These set routines, allow the child to understand clearly WHEN technology can be used. It optimizes the interaction, as it is interaction with a purpose, rather than using technology for technology’s sake.

Daily routine kids Time table

Space

As with all other learning tasks, interaction with Technology requires space. The American Society of Pediatrics suggests that it is important to designate a particular area in the house for this interaction OR at the very least, distinguish specific rooms where technology is not allowed. For example, if technology is used in a large open living room then try to keep this space as the constant. Technology in the bedroom, while convenient at the time, can lead a child to choose to be secluded as they stay in their rooms, locked into a game for hours and hours on end.

Space for the organization a Child's Interaction with Gadgets

Time

Time, time, time. Time is of the essence when organizing interaction with technology. Studies have shown that children should have approximately two hours of “screen time” per day. It is ultimately up to the parent’s discretion how much screen time they allow; however, it is important to set a time limit to the technological interaction. Excessive use can lead to major health problems down the road and the positive effects of technology is wasted.

Time limit for children

Purpose

Finally it is important to have a clear PURPOSE or GOAL in mind when organizing technological interaction. Whether it is to use apps to improve memory, learn ABC’s, pick up math skills, explore the web or as a reward for good behaviour, understanding your purpose for the interaction will allow you to easily set up and stick to an effective routine, space and time limit. Having a purpose will act as a guide in helping your child build that solid technological foundation.

Teacher and boy. Tablet

Optimizing a child’s interaction with technology is never an easy task. Life inevitably gets in the way and at times, we just need that “Ipad Babysitter” to give us some quiet time. However, it is more manageable that some people might think especially with the foundational blocks of Routine, Space, Time and Purpose. Let these four guiding principles light the way for our children’s technological future!

Vladimir Alonzo
Primary School Educator
Perth, Western Australia

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