Is Technology Really That Bad For Our Kids?
School holidays often mean parents are looking for ways to get their kids off 'the screens'. We all know that kids are usually better off playing outside and being active but there are many ways technology and surprisingly video gaming can be a positive effect on children.
How long should you let kids play with technology or video games?
Psychologist and academic Collett Smart believes it's a good idea to talk to kids about the positive effects tech can have on their lives.
'Moderate gameplay can contribute to positive emotions, emotional stability and the reduction of emotional disturbances. Games can be motivating and fun, provide immediate feedback and reward, and adapt themselves to the level of the learner,' Collett says.
'Games can also provide repetition to the point of automaticity, encourage distributed learning across various areas and settings and they can teach for transfer of knowledge into other contexts. They can also utilise many excellent teaching techniques, improve self-esteem and mood as well as improve social skills.'
When it comes to time playing video games, that's up to a parent to decide but most experts agree short bursts with several outside breaks is a good idea.
Collett says it's perfectly okay to have downtime or entertainment with media.
This is used for socialisation and relaxation, but when this becomes the main use of tech, we start to lose the benefits we might see with technology. We need to be looking for games that:
- allow children to create something and encourage imagination
- teach language skills
- are interactive and require a child to make decisions
- encourage healthy off-screen habits
- encourage healthy socialisation
Coding camps for kids focus on coding, robotics and design. Experts predict coding will be the 'trade of the future' so it's important kids learn as early as possible. School holidays are a great opportunity to utilise these camps and turn that love of technology into something that could build their future. Who knows, your child could be the next teenage entrepreneur!
More teen entrepreneurs, thanks to technology!
Teens around the world have used their love of technology to invent apps and games that benefit others.
A British teenager recently won an award for his app iMAREC; Indoor Mobile Augmented Reality Evacuation and Communication. The teen was inspired in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in the UK last year.
A Malaysian teenager came up with the anti-theft app, Phone Security Alarm. The app can detect attempts to steal a phone placed inside a bag or on the table.
Of course, most parents know about the game Roblox that's made three US teenagers millionaires, thanks to the more than 64 million people around the world currently addicted to the game!
Smart believes parents keen to introduce games into the home need to focus on parent-child relationships, with lots of communication and talking about boundaries with technology.
'My recommendation is the 3Cs: keep Current, keep Communicating and keep Checking', Smart said.
Tips for parents on screentime and technology:
- Keep technology in public areas at home
- Set time limits
- Set content limits
- Set age restrictions for apps and games
- Know passwords
- Watch movies and play games with your children and talk with your children about the content
- Teach children to look outward and think of others
- Balance online technology with offline activities (sport, family outings, hobbies, outdoor play)
- Make use of logging software
- Talk, talk, talk
So, is technology and video games really that bad for Kids? No, seems to be the short answer. As long as there is balance, limits, boundaries and communication, it can actually have a positive effect on your children.