Christmas is around the corner and before we know it, we are out looking for toys to buy. Whether it is for our children, our friend’s children, relatives, siblings, cousins, etc. we want to give something that they can appreciate.
You may be hearing wish lists already, and you may find that a lot of them are electronic gadgets. Yeah, they’re cool to have, but are these gadgets good for kids?
I say, as long as it’s not too much and you can control them, then both giver and child can benefit from it. Giver – you provided something of value to the child and, the child – wish list fulfilled.
If the child is younger than four years old, I would recommend educational toys. In the US, UK, and other part of Asia where electronic gadgets are more common use of ‘offline’ toys should be encouraged. In Land Down Under, educational toys in Australia is highly pushed by the Government for the parents to give their kids.
There are a lot of reasons why parents need to control and limit using electronic gadgets for children four years old and below. Here are some:
- Radiation – prolonged exposure to electronic gadgets while very young can produce negative effect later on in life. While there is no exact data that will support this, we all know that these gadgets contain radiation that could be harmful.
- Lack of peer interaction – children should be taught how to socialize while they’re young. Children this age should be allowed to have as much interaction as possible. For very young children, playgroup can help develop character, allow them to be more social and let them experience first-hand how to get along with people.
- Reduced Exercise – young children should be allowed to have much time as possible to play in the open. Even chasing the dog helps. Don’t be afraid of a few cuts and bruises; they’re all part of growing up.
- Effects on the eyes – even as adults we sometimes have eye strain when looking at our gadgets for a long time, what more if these were the practice of our very young children. Prolonged exposure to electronic gadget screens can be bad for our children’s developing eyes.
While the disadvantages are many, there are also advantages – if used in moderation. Some of them are:
- Provide entertainment – if you have experienced taking a road trip that lasts more than 3 hours, you know that having an iPad is a life saver. You have a choice of putting on some age appropriate game on or watch movies. No more, “I’m bored” or “Are we near yet?”.
- Provide knowledge – more and more educational content are being developed for young children. Most of them are interactive and can stimulate the thought processes of our children. Some can teach practical mathematics, basic shapes, and some have modules on proper behavior.
- Prepare them for the future – it is without a doubt that children that are exposed to electronic gadgets (and its educational benefit) will thrive better than those children that don’t have access to them. While gadgets are getting more intuitive, exposure to them will make them more adaptable for new developments.
There are pros and cons of having our children exposed to electronic gadgets at an early age. I think, as long as we limit and moderate the use of these gadgets, it’s going to be a win for all. Better yet, for very young kids, let’s give them educational “offline” toys and just loan them our gadgets from time to time. Where they can borrow it but not own it, making it easier for us to moderate their use.