Technology can easily become a dangerous intrusion in your child’s development if they aren’t taught how to use it properly. The combination of children and technology often gets a bad rap — children too often form a distracting dependence. But if you approach the subject methodically, introducing your child to technology can be pretty beneficial. Here are some ways to help your child gradually interact with technology and better understand the world around them.
6 Ways to Introduce Technology to Young Kids
1. Start Them Off With a Phone for Kids
You don’t have to constantly monitor what your child is doing when they get their first phone if it’s kid-safe. These phones provide the necessary capabilities of an unrestricted phone but also block the user from accessing undesirable features. So, for example, your child can text or call you to stay connected, but they can’t access the internet.
This is the perfect option for children who like to explore the outside world independently. Of course, they’ll be responsible for keeping a piece of technology on hand, but it won’t distract them from their surroundings. And depending on what kid’s phone they have, you can use parental controls to change their capabilities over time.
2. Watch Educational Videos Together
While the internet does have some videos that aren’t safe for kids, there are also thousands of safe sources of valuable video content. Their school may be already utilizing some of these resources. Try showing your child what kind of educational videos are out there, and let them explore. Watch videos together, and guide them as they choose their preferred content. This way, you can show them what choices are safe.
You can try a platform like YouTube Kids for this purpose, but there are even better alternatives with curated content. You want to find something they interact with and help them understand how to find it more safely. The more they learn about navigating the internet, the more responsible they can be when doing so on their own.
3. Set Them up With a Kid-Friendly Coding Course
Computer technology is, at this point, one of the foundations of society, and code is the language of computers. What better way to familiarize a child with technology than to start with the foundation? If you want to explore this idea, you’re not alone; one web search will display several coding courses for children.
It doesn’t sound very easy at first, but these programs are designed to teach in an understandable way to children. Some provide visual stimulation by representing code as building blocks or puzzle pieces, and some teach through engaging stories. Who knows — you could be jumpstarting the lifelong career of a budding engineer!
4. Help Them Develop Discipline
The dive into technology presents issues with discipline because of how much stimulation children require. Even if your child is responsible, they can rapidly become addicted because they likely haven’t developed the skills to discipline themselves. Luckily, by being the one to introduce technology in the first place, you have the opportunity to plant those seeds.
Firstly, help them understand the need for ground rules by appealing to their senses. For example, encourage them to consider how their eyes feel after watching videos for too long or how much energy they have. Then, work together to come up with those rules. If they have a hand in creating them, they’ll be quick to understand and follow them.
5. Solve Tech Problems Together
No matter how long it takes, or however small the issue, try to involve your child in fixing technological problems. Even with minor problems like dead batteries or computer slowness, include them so they can build this knowledge early. In the same way as learning to code, teaching them about physical technology will help them understand it more fundamentally.
If the computer is acting slow because of a high CPU load, bring your child over to explain the issue. Have them consider why it may be running slowly — you could say, for example, that it’s carrying too much. Then talk about potential solutions like removing some baggage (closing intensive programs) or letting it rest (shutting it down).
6. Apply What They’ve Learned Off-screen
With all of these new sources of information, your child will be learning a lot. It’s essential, however, to solidify this knowledge in real-life experience to help it stay. Even though the internet hosts much of humanity’s knowledge, it’s better supplemented with relevant books and activities.
Say that your child discovers a love for dinosaurs through the videos they’ve watched online. They’ll surely learn a lot but won’t experimentally understand without the grounding experience of seeing real fossils in a museum. Likewise, watching videos of stingrays is fun, but the experience of petting one at an aquarium is a lifelong memory.
You can teach your kid how to use technology without becoming addicted by doing it on your terms. Of course, simply exposing them to it isn’t enough for them to understand the subject as a whole. But by going in with a plan and keeping your child informed, they’ll learn how to make intelligent choices. So don’t hesitate to get started — they’ve got much to learn.