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Toddlers and the Internet
The Internet fosters freedom of expression and social media applications in particular, are giving voice to people around the world. The Internet is an essential vehicle to modern societies and will play an important role in generating awareness about all sorts of different issues around the world.
The Internet has empowered each and every one of us to search, receive and impart information in different ways. This removal of barriers to communication and information has enabled people to educate themselves in topics that before they would not have an interest in or know that this information exists.
What about the children?
As parents, we will need to monitor the use and access to the Internet by our children, and especially toddlers, the same way that we will monitor the type of books they read, the type of games they play and the type of people they interact. For that reason, there are many ways that parents can use blocks on different websites, or install security software to protect children from inappropriate content. Even if children nowadays have the ability to find their way around the Internet, it is vital that parents educate themselves on how to be a step ahead. We, the parents, have to admit that we need to put more effort into understanding how the internet and its applications work, compared to a child. The generation of young people that are being born into world of computers, tablets and the Internet will be better navigators than us. For that reason, parents need to be careful and allow their child to be part of the modern world and protect them using good knowledge and correct tactics.
What are the pros?
- Children learn very quickly and for that reason, they will learn a lot of different and useful applications sometimes, before they even start school.
- Children are being taught case and effect, with simple things such as: when we click on this, then that appears, when I select the color red, then the object will change into the red color.
- Acquire knowledge that is not typical taught in schools, for example: learning how to do simple tricks, learning how to make things or even learning a new language.
What are the cons?
· Children can be so obsessed with the computer that they will put a fight with their parents. To discipline toddlers is challenging and can be tough for parents to add something extra.
· Toddlers do not have time to do things (hands-on experience). Their motor skills are not stretched enough and they will lack eventually the drive to do something in real life.
· The Internet has a plethora of stimulations, such as loud sounds, flashing lights, intense colors etc that can overwhelm toddlers. Also, later on in their lives, children might find it hard to concentrate in school (ADHD) and be restless.
· In times, where the benefits of exercise have been emphasized, children in front of computers can lead to too much sedentary time. Physical activity can be non-existent and that will translate to a lot of health problems, like obesity.
Top tips for parents
- Never use the Internet to replace a nanny.
- Use the computer and the Internet together with your toddler.
- Avoid a digital overload for you and your child.
- Pick useful ideas from the web and apply them in your life.
- Select specific websites or programs for your child that has a specific educational purpose.
- Teach your child a different thing every time you use the computer or explore the Internet.
- Remember to use a computer and everything related to it, as a tool for making your life better and enhance your knowledge.
A final thought
We all need to remember though that technology is NOT a bad thing but like everything in life, it has to be used with care and in controlled ‘portions’. I was not personally raised with PCs around me and in school we never had them. I learned to use it when I was 20. I am 34 years old now and I am still learning and continuously updating my knowledge. I know that my daughter will eventually know more things than me, because she will grow up in this digital world. I believe that we need to embrace this new era and be the best parents we can be, without fear or prejudice.