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Toddlers these days seem to have an intuitive relationship with technology. This ‘touch screen generation’ is very comfortable with smartphones and tablets. For most parents it is a mystery how quick their toddler seems to be with these devices and how intuitively he swipes the screen and get totally engaged with the application. Raising children in this digital age is a challenge for young parents. One of the questions is: how much time should they allow their children to be engaged with media and tech devices? Experts say that in US, kids spend more than seven hours with media and digital devices. In India this figure may be lesser as the smartphone penetration is lesser and restricted to a certain class of the society.
It is interesting how clever the little ones are with tech devices. They are better at figuring out the iPhone/ iPad than the parent. This makes the parent see his child with some kind of awe, and they encourage him to explore it more and more without realizing that technology does have a flip side too. They love to show off their kid’s ‘talents’ to family and friends and some even give nicknames to their child - gadget guru, Gizmokid and so on.
How exactly does technology harm kids? Experts warn that primary school children are losing their handwriting skills as touch-screen swiping and a sedentary lifestyle leaves them with underdeveloped arm and hand muscles. They are unable to write at length and they do not have stamina. They cannot express their ideas clearly and concisely as they use just smiley faces and emoticons.
Many parents feel that these tablets are one stop teaching aid which the children use. They learn to write, spell, colour with these devices. But unfortunately as the child misses out on the first-hand experience of nature or human interaction or just playing with toys, his development is not complete. It impacts the emotional, social and cognitive aspects of child development. The touch and feel experience is missing so also the real life experience. There is lot that a child learns through live human interactions which is not possible through digital devices. The way forward then is to limit device time to an hour or so and let the child play with friends, toys and everyday things of life, to be healthy and normal.