#SoundOff: Is Technology Helping or Hurting Children’s Development?

Study shows 52% of kids have access to mobile devices at home

(Image: Thinkstock)

There are various challenges that arise when raising a child, but throw in the latest smartphones and tablets, unlimited data plans and popular social networking sites, and you’ve got a whole new set of concerns.  Parents, it’s clear that raising kids in the digital age has given you an additional title: hall online monitor. And with some parents gifting their toddlers and pre-schoolers with mobile devices, it has others wondering, how young is too young when it comes to introducing your children to tech?

Gerri Willis, host of The Willis Report on Fox Business Network, recently discussed parenting in the digital age with Have a New Kid by Friday author Dr. Kevin Leman, who believes technology is alright in moderation. However, the psychologist and father of five, is concerned that children are losing sight of their real purpose: to simply be kids.

“It’s crazy what’s going on,” said Leman during an on-air interview. “Kids are growing up way too fast; we’re putting things in kids’ hands too early. There’s something wonderful about, you know, growing up, and have a little nativity, if you will, naïveness to your approach in life and not this whole hurried approach to education.”

With more and more parents introducing their children to the world of technology, whether through their own gadgets or their child’s device, child development specialists are concerned it’s affecting kids’ attention spans, communication abilities, and spelling and grammar skills, among other daily functions. Others argue they’re preparing their children to be tech-savvy adults by introducing them to apps, gadgets, and the web before they enter school.

#SoundOff: Is technology helping or hurting children’s development? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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  • Sim

    I totally agree. I am against young children utilizing certain technology devices. The smart phones especially. The texting is making them less personal and they rather text you than talk to you even if you are in the same room. That annoys me tremendously.

    • http://twitter.com/janelmwrites Janel Martinez

      Thanks for responding, Sim! While I think introducing young children to
      certain devices (i.e. tablets, LeapFrog Learning Game systems, etc.)
      isn’t a bad idea, tech time should be monitored by parents. And that
      rule applies to older children as well. There can be a balance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roger-Madison/826182939 Roger Madison

    I am a proud grandfather watching the third generation of our family growing up surrounded by technology. Interestingly, the challenge for parents and grandparents is that we must avoid applying a Boomer generation perspective if we find ourselves saying: “children are losing sight of their real purpose: to simply be kids.”

    Children are being kids differently than we did. In the process, they are expanding their horizons, and grasping new knowledge at a more rapid pace than we did. Do we really want to slow them down?

    My daughter and her husband apply and enforce some clear rules with our grandchildren. Here are a few samples:

    1. They are 11 and 8, and they cannot watch TV programs targeting kids older than they are.

    2. They get one hour of un-interrupted use of their electronic devices each day… after they finish their homework.

    3. They are enrolled in activities with other children their age — karate, soccer, dance, etc.

    Access to technology accelerates the intellectual development, but is not a substitute for engagement with loving parents, and active peers. Our challenge is that we must keep up to be able to wisely monitor and guide their activities.

  • http://twitter.com/TheTechGyrl Marcia Wade Talbert

    My eighteen month old daughter has an iPod. I know, I know. Shock and Aw, right? Actually, not really. I see kids her age with them all over the place. No, she doesn’t carry it on her all of the time. It isn’t meant to be a substitute for my attention and engagement, but there are a lot of benefits to her using it.

    First, it is encased in a Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case so she can’t break it. Most of the apps are also from Fisher Price and they are geared to teach toddlers her age about shapes, colors, nursery rhymes, the ABCs and the 123s. One app teaches her where her eyes, ears, nose, and tummy are on her face and body. There are read-along books that I can download, as well as her favorite TV shows like Sesame Street (the MoMo show, which is short for Elmo) and Super Why? All the while I sit there with her and interact with her and the app. And she still spends plenty of time just playing and using her imagination with regular toys like blocks, stuffed animals, and the occasional cardboard box or empty paper towel roll.

    Black parents can’t be afraid of technology. We need to understand that what childhood (and parenthood for that matter) looked like 10,20,40, and 80 years ago will be completely different than what it is today. Different isn’t bad, neither is expediency. If my daughter can learn how to read, or learn her multiplication tables faster and easier than I did, then I welcome that opportunity and any app, gadget or device that will facilitate that advancement. More importantly, as an African American in this country’s school system she is going to need every edge she can get. Too many black children aren’t proficient in math and reading for their age level so (when it comes to technology) what sense does it make to say we need to keep them from “growing up too fast.” If holding our kids behind the curve is the goal, too many parents are doing a great job. Now is the time to incentivize them to learn, by using video games, apps, and mobile devices. Hopefully, years down the road they won’t just be playing them, they’ll be inventing them.

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