The Lesser Known Benefits of Technology in a Child’s Development

Recently, it’s become a common sight to see children grasping an iPad or tablet in just about any store in America, which can give the impression that these devices are used to occupy the child when a parent does not want to be bothered. Many concerned parents argue that the experiences a child has on his/her tech are not developmentally enriching, and fail to offer them proper social interaction and people skills. The image of glazed over eyes fixed on a bright blue screen is rightly concerning, though the benefits of technology in a child’s life should not be ignored, either. The sheer magnitude of the internet exposes children to unprecedented amounts of information, which can harbor their curiosity and lead to new interests and forms of learning. Social media platforms allow kids to connect with others in ways that were previously unimaginable, and can act as a supplement to real world interaction. Additionally, apps and services that are built around the input of the child can bring out their creativity and problem solving skills in ways that should not be ignored. It’s clear that there are numerous benefits to be had from technology, but for every benefit there is also a misuse, which is ultimately the responsibility of the parent to oversee. Rather than using a device to act as a way to occupy a child, parents should use their child’s tech as an outlet for learning and interaction, which can only be accomplished through their own encouragement and occasional policing. For this reason, it is usually the fault of an uninvolved parent that the benefits of technology are passed up. I believe that properly utilized technology can have substantial benefits in a child’s life, and even have a positive impact on their development.
Refusing to offer a child the opportunity to use technology not only removes a source of entertainment and learning from their life, but also prevents them from getting the tech experience they may need later on. Simply by using their device or computer on a daily basis, a child can learn useful skills that make them more tech savvy, even surpassing their parents in many cases. The vast majority of people rely on technology in their workplace, and many jobs are entirely centered around it. This is a trend that is sure to continue into the future, and is likely to increase. However, there are also benefits to reap during a child’s schooling, since the internet can provide them with useful information for class, whether they need help understanding a difficult math concept, or simply want to learn more about something on their own time. There are thousands of helpful resources that they can tap into, from Khan Academy to CoolMath. Best of all, parents can monitor what sites a child uses, in addition to their apps and entertainment. If use gets out of hand, a parent can simply put a timer on the device and it will automatically lock at the chosen time. In this way, a device can be used as an incentive for good behavior, in addition to being a source of learning.
In an ideal world, a parent would hope that most of their child’s time on a device is spent on learning, though it is important to acknowledge that they will often choose to do otherwise. Youtube, popular games, and Netflix are all a familiar sight for parents of young children. However, it’s important to note that even these platforms can be put to good use. Games that are centered around building, storytelling, or decision making can all be useful in a child’s development, and many of these apps are actually fun and enticing. Games such as Minecraft hone in on a child’s inner builder with open ended play, and Pokemon Go gets them outdoors in order to find a creature’s location around their neighborhood. Other games like Bloons tap into their strategy and decision making skills, whereas Wordscapes can help them with their English abilities. All of these games are amongst the most consistently downloaded by kids, and I myself have fond memories of them from my childhood. Other sources of entertainment that rely less on the child’s input, such as Youtube, may not be as enriching, but the boundlessness of information on these sites can nevertheless lead to new interests and still maintain educational value with a parent’s guidance. The main downfall of these sources is that parents sometimes use them simply to pass a child’s time, failing to realize that they may have tangible benefits. Parents should consider playing games alongside their kids, taking part in what they watch or play. Studies show that doing something as simple as watching television with a parent can lead a child to retain more information from the program, and have more fun doing so.
Perhaps the element of technology that gets the most grumbles from parents, however, is social media. Adversaries of social media cite issues such as cyber bullying, misinformation, and social stress. However, these issues are too broadly applied, and most older kids will tell you that social media is a positive force in their life. Social media allows a person to rapidly and effortlessly connect with friends and family, and meet new people in the process. Improved relationships and social awareness are amongst the benefits of social media, in addition to the fact that it can help kids to get to know one another better and gain understanding. In fact, interaction on social media can make people more willing to interact in person, and on a friendlier basis. In this way, spending time online may actually have a positive effect on a child’s people skills, in addition to the other slew of benefits that technology provides them like tech savviness, new interests, ease of learning, and a harbouring of curiosity. It’s imperative that kids are exposed to these benefits, which is ultimately the duty of their parents to provide them with, and provide guidance for.

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