“It’s really not that bad is it?
I mean they’re not gonna get cancer or become autistic from using them!”
“Well, I let them use it, but just to look at pictures or videos cause they sit still that way.” “Well, I guess the younger they learn how to use it, the better they’ll be at it.”
Whenever I talk to friends and people in general about my increased concern about children and devices and social media, I usually get the same answers. So… Let me address these three main views.
Yes, it’s really THAT bad
Obviously you don’t magically get cancer or any other disease or physical affection right away. You don’t get it from using a device now and then. But… Let’s get real. How much is “now and then”? How often do you feel like you need them to give you a break? How often do you need to take that call or send that email and just hand your device? The truth is that now and then turns into all the time without us noticing. And before we know it, it is not us who hand out the device, but them who demand it. The hazards and affections of using digital devices, particularly for children under the age of five are considerable. The fact that we just do not read what manufacturers say about their own products is pretty worrying. iPhone 4’s user’s security information says that users should keep the device at least 8.5 inches away from your body while having the device in use. We can’t say they didn’t warn us, right?
I just let them use it… cause they sit still.
Ok, the natural essence of children is not to sit still. Yes, we need to teach them self-control, and how to act and interact in different scenarios. However, having them still cause they’re staring at a screen is definitely not the best way to learn that. Why is it? We were put infront of the TV to sit still and we turned out ok, right? Well… That’s debateable. Many of our current social concerns derive from the fact that we have become great as audience, and awful as proactive citizens; but we won’t dwell on that here. The real concern is that the old phrase “don’t sit so close to the TV you’re gonna go blind” grows true with digital technology. And not only that, there are plenty of additional hazards to have when kids have their minds focused on whatever contents the internet sends their way.
The younger they start, the better they’ll be at it.
Oh just so wrong… The biggest challenge for digital technology users is discernment. The ability to decide what’s true, right, valid, appropriate, safe, effective, etc. It turns out that new generations definitely do not lack the necessary skills to operate devices. They learn enough by seeing us use them! However, being “good at” operating the device, does not mean they will be good at using it. Many thing are being normalized for children. Violence, nudity, and a huge overload of information is making kids more and more filled with information, but less able to make decisions. At the same time, the more informed they become, the less happy they seem to be. Now, I’m not an advocating for ignorance or to keep children away from information. But I am and will continue to be an advocate for giving kids a chance to be kids, to learn by experience, to see and enjoy the real world before they get an overload of facts and information that they won’t be able to discern, classify, and appreciate. Turns out the earlier they begin being digital, the later they’ll find out on how much they missed out as human beings.
And that’s why I join forces with people who care about this. Developing gatherings to talk with parents, educators, and parenting coaches. One of those efforts has led to the development of a very special program called “Digital Toddler Bootcamp” in a joint venture with Parenting Consultant Amanda Houle. I was made very aware that even those parents who were willing to see the current challenges, needed tools, and we created just that.
Being aware of the complications of technology doesn’t have to make us paranoid or vilify technology.
We’ve spent years watching movies that talk about all the efforts to make sure humanity isn’t deployed or controlled by machines. And yet, we have not learned much from them. We are currently excessively dependent on technology, and we’re living in denial. But new generations are not. They are looking for answers and guidance, so let’s give them that. No panic, just parenting.
If you know of other parents who need to know about this, please share. If you have specific questions or concerns, please share them with us in the comment section.