Aug 03, 2013 2:00 PM by Jacinta Rose
There's no denying that we are all now living in a high-tech world and this includes our kids. In fact, let's face it, our little ones will only know of an existence with the internet, tablets and smartphones.
Tips to help in the digital world
As parents with kids growing up in this ever-evolving technological era, how do we know when to introduce them to gadgets and the best ways to do so?
Some parents opt to just ban access in their home and let them have what they need at school. However, for many parents, laptops and mobile phones are just a way of life and sooner or later their toddler is going to want to reach for the touch-screen.
Nicole Pierotti is a psychologist who helps babies, children and parents through her organisation, Baby Smiles, and she has some helpful tips for tech-savvy parents.
The right age
Pierotti recommends that any age over two is an ideal benchmark for when to let your toddler play with an iPad or the like.
"Under [two] a child has so much to learn from the world around them and their body is designed to learn by doing, moving, touching, tasting, talking, listening and interacting with others," Pierotti shares.
"This time is so precious for a whole range of developmental and neurological reasons. Try not to waste it on an electronic device or a TV. If you can get to two years of age without using any 'screen' then this is a huge bonus to your toddler's development."
The best iPad apps
If there's no denying the little hands that keep grabbing for your iPad and you really don't mind if they get a head-start on technology, then what are some of the best games or apps to download?
Pierotti says, just like with TV, when looking for a game or app you should ask yourself as the parent "What will my child learn from this?"
"Your toddler has so much to learn from the world. By the age of 4 years, 95 per cent of your toddler's brain growth has happened, neural pathways have been laid down and it is already like a really complex road network."
Try to aim for games or apps such as puzzles or those that focus on numbers, sights, words and the alphabet.
There are many guidelines that you can consider setting in your own household, however, Pierotti has tried to make it easier by suggesting the following:
A time limit is essential and total technology time shouldn't exceed 30 minutes a day (that includes all forms of TV, iPads, phones etc). A hot tip is to set a timer so that you know when 30 minutes is up.
Not for sleep
Never use an iPad, TV or DVD player to relax your child into sleep. And try not to let them use an electronic device within an hour before going to bed.
"Brain scans have shown us that the lights (specifically blue and green) emitted from electronic devices interfere with the let down of the sleep hormone in our brains. This goes for all blue and green lights — TV, electronic clocks and radios, mobile phones, iPads and other tablets etc," Pierotti says.
Let your toddler use a gadget under your guidance and by your choosing — not because they are demanding or whinging for it.
Encourage social play
Try not to let your child use gadgets at time when they could be interacting with other kids or in other activities. Encourage them to play with toys, balls or on a playground so that they can develop other important physical and social skills.