By Amy K. Williams
As parents, we obviously want our children to start life with a clean slate and unlimited promise. We strive to ensure that they get the proper nutrition, have access to early childhood education, and encourage healthy peer relationships. However, while we are focused on counting objects by twos or teaching colour words, we often overlook how our own relationship with technology can negatively impact our toddler’s self-esteem.
The Role Our Technology Plays On Child Development
It’s no secret that we rely on our technology to keep in contact with friends or family, check work emails, pay bills, and stay up-to-date on social media. Unfortunately, our connectivity might be distracting us. All our scrolling and swiping may accidentally be impairing our children’s self-esteem. Which can manifest in anxiety and depression in our sons and daughters. Instead of interacting with our children and building their confidence, our actions are sending a message to our children that they aren’t important enough to warrant our full attention.Â
While those outcomes are frightening in their own rights, we also need to consider how our devices might affect our baby’s developing brain. Medical doctors and educators have long known that between birth and three years is “the critical period” for brain development. Traditionally, children have received neural stimuli from us and the world around them. However, today’s technology is changing this time honored system, putting us in a precarious situation, potentially stunting a baby’s or toddler’s brain development by not providing the necessary stimulus needed.
In addition, we need to consider how new research is suggesting children (younger than three) who were given a digital device, such as a Smartphone or tablet, to calm down or to divert their attention might have an impaired ability to learn self-regulation. The same researchers are even noticing a decrease in the children’s ability to develop skills needed for scientific and mathematical thinking. This is critical, because brain changes that occur today are the foundation that all future function development will be built on, good or bad.
5 Techniques To Hang Smartphones Up For Our Kids
The first step in fixing this problem is awareness of how our relationship with technology can impact our children’s well-being. Take it to the next level by implementing the following techniques:
- Allow yourself a fixed amount of time everyday to use your Smartphone. Allot a half hour or forty-five minutes for indulging in social media or texting a friend. The key, however, is to power down after the time is up and be present with our children.
- Zone out. Develop areas in the house where phones and devices are not allowed. For many families these zones are typically the dinner table, bedrooms, or bathrooms.
- It’s never too early to begin talking about the role technology should play in the family. Even young children can understand bullying and social media By beginning these discussions when a child is little, you can build on these foundations as a child ages and ensure they have the skills needed to live in an increasingly digital world.
- Lead by example. Our children are watching and mimicking our every move. They are noticing the value we place on our phones and devices which can influence their future relationships with technology and their children. We may be starting a vicious cycle that will follow our kids’ and their kids’ for years to come.
- Wait until a child is older than three to before allowing them to play with your phone or technology. Maximize their development by letting children hear words, see facial expressions, and learn through play.
On A Positive Note
Thankfully, with intentional Smartphone choices, we can put down our devices to empower children by reclaiming an active role in our child’s development and control their access to damaging content.
By being more present and focused, we will be able to gain a healthy balance with technology. Our children are only small and impressionable for a small window of time so we need to maximize the years we are given.
How will you put down your Smartphone today and make this become a reality?
Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.