A basic guide for educating children in a digital society
Technology is here to stay, there is no doubt about that. Digital tech came and it conquered, and has reshaped our society, and especially for new generations. Known as digital natives, the youngest generations have grown up surrounded by technology, giving them a natural aptitude with devices like smartphones and computers.
Technological advances bring many benefits to youth, so long as it is integrated into their lives in a healthy way which assists their growth and learning abilities.
That brings us to this article, which offers a basic guide for educating children in the digital age. The guide is divided into age groups, from youngest to oldest.
From 0-3 years old:
- Limit the time kids of this age spend with technologies in order to reinforce good habits, in the same manner as other aspects of their life. It is important not to overstimulate kids at this stage.
- Supervise children’s technology use, and try to have them use video games or apps you choose yourself.
- Try to make sure devices are not connected to the internet while children are using them, as long as they don’t need to be.
- It is important not to use these devices in the hours where you are trying to teach other habits such as family time, meal time, or bed time.
- When choosing games for the kids, find those which allow them to freely experiment and interact with no concrete educational goals.
From 3-6 years old:
- At this age, devices are very appealing, to the point where kids may get too fixated on them. The solution here should be the same as with younger kids: establish certain time restrictions for devices and select the content that kids can watch.
- Dedicate time to talk about ICTs (Information and Communications Technologies) and other technologies, about what is happening on screen, and encourage children to do the same. Spend time playing with children without using any kind of devices as well.
- Again, it is important to have the devices disconnected from the Internet when not necessary.
From 6-9 years old:
- Children of this age still need adult supervision and content filtering, which means that parents still play an essential role and serve as role models for the use of technologies.
- It is important that computers and TV screens are not located in the kids' rooms but in common rooms of the house where everyone can interact and participate.
- When using new technologies, parents should be present to explain how they work and how to learn with them.
- This age is the time to to introduce kids to essential Internet security matters and lead them through their first online interactions.
- Start engaging the kids in the selection of games and resources they can use, and continue talking about the ICTs they use.
10 years old and up:
- Even if kids are growing more independent at this age, make sure to use technology together: play video games and watch videos online as a pair or group.
- ICTs can help to promote complex thinking and reasoning processes, so now it is key to use ICTs for more than recreational purposes at this stage.
- At this age, social media and social networks start factoring into kids’ lives and may become part of their daily routine. It is important to teach them how to use these technologies safely. In the article “6 Ways to Help Students Stay Safe and Secure Online” we address this issue and suggest some useful practices. At this point, smartphones will become the device children most want to own and use. Decision about when you think it is appropriate for them to have one, and make sure they understand the responsibility it represents.
From the first contact that children have with technology, up to their teenage years, know that it is your responsibility to guide them through the process, promoting safe and smart use as well as showing them all the learning possibilities tech provides. Encourage the use of ICTs as tools to promote growth and increase motivation, accompanying your children every step of the way.