Child Development and Technology

Terrified. Should I buy my six year old a Kindle tablet? I frantically search the internet for information on limiting screen time, on educational games, on buying restrictions and how touch screens effect developing brains, and whether or not this makes me a bad mom.

This minor freak out was six months ago. Ultimately, I timidly made the choice to purchase my son a Kindle tablet. It has been one of the best decisions I could have made.

I password protected his Kindle, first with his birth date, then our phone number. As a result, he learned both of them with little effort. He can now recite them with confidence and glee. I add alarms to the tablet telling him when he can get out of bed on the weekends, allowing me a few precious minutes more of sleep & slight weekend boundaries. I put time limitations on certain apps like Netflix and Angry Birds, forcing him to use his educational apps as well. Does this make me a lazy parent? Perhaps, but it has also allowed my son to explore his own educational interests and become slightly more independent.

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As a result, our weekends are slightly different, he now plays Wild Kratts’ animal identification games on Saturday morning till eight am, instead of waking me up at six. He talks about different ecosystems, and how we’re destroying them. He now feels like he is a member of the global community. He has started to read of his own volition, choosing his e-books based on personal interest not school insistence. Sometimes it’s the latest Ninjago adventure and other times it’s ‘How fast Cheetahs go.’

When he wanted to learn how to make paper airplanes, he found YouTube videos and watched them for hours learning how to make each crease and fold until he had the perfect airplane. We frequently hike or explore on weekends, he now maps our progress and locations with a GPS app. He has simultaneously learned map application and distance application. Miles, Kilometers and GPS coordinates aren’t just numbers for him any more, they’re tangible and applicable knowledge. In a decade, when he becomes a driver, I am less terrified of his navigational skills, or how capable he from getting to point A to point B.

I, in no way, advocate for children to become glued to their electronic devices, but in order for our children to grow up in society, they will have to become adept in traversing the digital world. I try to foster controlled independence. My son has established boundaries whether or not he is currently aware of them.

Age appropriately, I am allowing him to freely explore the digital world around him. That brings me more comfort beyond belief.

– Guest Blogger, Emma Beazley

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