Today, the world is different from what it was decades ago. Digital technology has transformed the world, as well as childhood. One out of three internet users worldwide are a child and young people are more connected than other age groups, according to The State of the World’s Children 2017 report published by the United Nation Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Here are some facts: Mexicans spend an average of 8 hours and 12 minutes each day online… and the figures grow every year, according to the 14th Study About the Habits of Internet Users in Mexico 2018.
According to Unicef, one-hundred million children used the Internet for the first time from 2012 to 2017. Undeniably, children are increasingly connected through smartphones or tablets. Therefore, parents should be aware of the pros and cons:
- Children have access to more knowledge: In years gone by, children learned using books, but now they can become familiar and learn about the same subjects using interactive resources! Augmented Reality builds on the physical world and allows us to interact with the virtual world.
- Children become interested in learning more languages: When they hold a smartphone or tablet in their hands, children have access to educational content from various countries and their interest in understanding that content will encourage them to learn other languages. Even if they have not taken actual lessons, your children will surely identify some words in other languages.
- Technology drives children’s learning: Apps help children to develop sensory skills, they promote cognitive development, and they strengthen motor coordination.
- Technology generates self-confidence as children overcome new challenges: Have you noticed that when they play games that are suitable for their age, the challenges that they overcome promote their self-confidence? This will be reflected in the way they behave at home or at school.
- Children’s isolation: If parents do not take care of children when they interact with technology, they begin to stay apart and lock themselves up in private spaces to play or watch videos on mobile devices.
- Access to unsuitable content: Although big companies like Facebook and YouTube have reinforced their child protection policies launching versions of their apps that are suitable for children, the fact is that appropriate content filters are not the standard yet and children are exposed to apps and content that do not contribute to their development.
- Using a device as a ‘nanny’: Some parents use devices as a tool to calm down their children. The provide them with devices but do not monitor them. As a consequence, children are deprived of contact with others and their behavior is not self-regulated.
- Sleep disorders: the overstimulation caused by devices does not contribute to healthy sleep. Lack of sleep can impact concentration, behavior, eating, and overall health.
Technology encourages the development of the sensory skills of children.
Despite the risks, if you are with your children and you monitor them when they use technology, it becomes a tool that supports their development.Meanwhile, Unicef identifies four benefits of new technologies:
1. They improve the quality of education.
2. They provide tools and information that allows them to seek new solutions to their problems.
3. A new economy with more professional options for young people.
4. A better way to address emergencies.
SOURCES: Center on the Developing Child — Harvard University; National Library of Medicine (USA); Thieme Publishers; and the American Academy of Pediatrics.