Thursday, August 11, 2011

Technology and the Child

Sometimes there is just so much information that it's hard to make heads or tails of it. Which brings me to a debate we've been having at a national level. Technology and the evils it brings to the minds of children. Trust me I've read all the debates. While I don't hold degrees in psychology or physiology, I am a mother of four, and by goodness that makes me an expert! So here is my take on the issue.

Television and video games are not intrinsically evil. I will note that there is very little quality programing for children on television. You as the parent should choose wisely what your child watches. Children watching television should be the exception, not the rule, simply because there are so many other things that children could be and should be doing. They could be like playing outside, which will build them up physically. It will build their self-esteem and will contribute to building social connections. They could be playing an instrument or learning how to play one. They could be learning to sew or cook or bake. All of these are wonderful contributions that can be made to society once they are adults. Life is so much richer, exciting and varied than anything that can be offered by sitting passively watching television. So why even offer it as an option? Well, sometimes there are programs worth watching. Sometimes you may want to watch something that they would enjoy too. So, if your child watches an hour or two of television a week I would argue that no long term harm will be done.

Video games are another hot topic issue and again as a parent you should have and use your discretion. Video games can be quite violent and most are not appropriate for young children. The truth of the matter is that the future has arrived and like driving a car or anything else we take for granted, computers and their programs will be second nature for our children. Video games like Zelda, take kids on a journey where they have to solve problems to get to another level. Think of them like computerized chess games. As long as they are age appropriate and limited, I think video games are fine.

If I had to give parents tips it would be to parent your child when it comes to television and video games. Use television and video games to teach your child something worthwhile. For instance, when friends are over, the video games and t.v. are turned off because that face to face interaction with a friend is so much more rewarding than playing video games or watching t.v. People, school and chores come before any electronic devices can be turned on. If you notice a change in your child's attitude after he has played video games or watched television, simply stop the use of them.

So often I hear parents complain about how much their kids play video games or watch television, only to find out that they have a console or a t.v. in their room! Get it out of there. Under no circumstances is it appropriate for young children to be playing video games or watching t.v. alone in his room. This is not something they should be regulating. Remember that you pass along values by the things you do and by the things you allow your child to do. Video Games and television are forms of entertainment. Do you believe that it's healthy for your child to be entertained 24/7? Do you want your child to grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted and a contributing member of society? Well then, there you have it. Limit and supervise the use of television and video games for young kids. It's not a scientific analysis, but it makes sense.