Our children are growing up in a world of technology. It’s literally everywhere you look! What amazes me the most of all, is that children today won’t know a time that information wasn’t readily available. If you have a question, you Google it! My kids ask me to Google things all the time. They start wondering how something works and next thing you know, we’re online trying to get the answers. And, in that respect, technology is wonderful! It’s a fantastic aid to education. It makes life easier in a lot of ways. But, there’s the dark side of technology too. It can really suck you in! It’s down right addicting; both for adults and kids. It’s easy to spend hours online, on social media or gaming, without even realizing it.
So, how old should a child be before they are allowed to play video games or use a tablet or phone? I think most kids have been handed a piece of technology before their first birthday. Some parents use it as a last resort when out at a restaurant (myself included). Others allow it more often, and at home. So, that leads to the next question, how much time is too much for a child to spend on a computer or game? Every parent has to answer these questions for themselves. There are no two sets of parents, kids, or families the same.
In our house, we limit technology. The rule is that each child may choose a piece of technology (ie: a tablet, PlayStation, Xbox, etc) when they turn 8 years old. We have one LeapPad that our oldest received when he was 6. It’s a really nice learning toy. But, I’m told it isn’t as cool as his friends tablets and games so he was really excited to turn 8 & get a tablet for Christmas. He is allowed to use his tablet for a half hour every evening. On Saturday & Sunday, he can use it for one hour. We are fairly strict with the time allotment but do make exceptions when he is allowed extra time, such as during car trips or functions.
My 5-year-old has the LeapPad that his brother passed down to him. The same time restrictions apply to him, although he only chooses to use it a couple times a week & when we are traveling. Now that the tablet has entered the house, the LeapPad isn’t as interesting to him.
My 2-year-old loves to use the LeapPad. Amazingly she knows how to turn it on and get the drawing app and videos! I brought it with us on holidays where she was allowed to use it in restaurants, and viola – she is an expert now! I keep it in reserve for her to use in emergency situations.
It will be challenging for us to follow the 8-year-old technology rule with our second and third children. It was simple with our first. But now that technology has entered the house, everyone wants it! And quite frankly it’d be much easier to buy them each a tablet & let them play. Limiting the technology isn’t a convenient option. But, if I didn’t have technology restrictions on my kids, I’m afraid they would spend all their time gaming. I want them to be creative, play real games with each other, draw, & use their imagination. I don’t want them sucked into an artificial world where they lose their ability to imagine and interact with real people. When they are on a tablet, they are obvious to anything else that’s going on around them. At the same time, I don’t want to limit the technology to the point where they are lacking something their friends have. It’s a tricky balance.
I’d love to hear what you think is best when it comes to kids and technology!