My 6 year old is a complete ‘Gadget King’. He is inseparable from his ipad, iphone and PS3. He plays with them effortlessly, whereas I still struggle with the plethora of apps available on my phone. Even an ‘Amazon’ confuses me, but my baby is super comfortable with his ‘gadget friends’.
My friends have always questioned my decision of allowing my son to use an ipad since the age of 1. I have never regretted it. The pertinent question here is that are we, as parents, aware of the pros and cons of our ever growing technology? The task, nonetheless difficult, is not impossible to accomplish. To enable me to do so simplistically, I have created a personal list, which I would love to share with you. Let’s address the negatives first:
**•** Modern gadgets (like video games) cause attention deficit and tend to be addictive, which can cause indiscipline and decreased self regulation. I have experienced it with my son. He, too, throws massive tantrums if kept away from his PS3 for long.
**•** A few video games are quite violent and can lead to aggression in kids.
**•** Decreased physical (outdoor) activity due to long hours spent on these games, can cause obesity, weak eyes and sleep disturbances. We have all experienced this with our kids, “Mum, 10 more minutes with the game please”; ‘Please order a pizza, I am hungry and I cannot leave the game just yet”.
**•** I feel that the greatest disadvantage of these gadgets is that a child’s social skills suffer a big blow. They make friends with these gadgets and ignore human contact.
**•** Kids can lose interest in writing as it seems to be a herculean task (tablets need a tap for everything).
These modern gadgets are the ‘necessary evil’, existing in our lives. We cannot stop using them. So, as a parent; I have laid down a few ground rules:
**•** A constant supervision of the video games my son plays and the programs he watches.
**•** Gadgets are ‘forbidden’ in the bedroom and timelines need to be adhered to, while playing video games.
**•** I talk to my kid and encourage him to talk about the games he likes to play and the programs he watches, so that I understand his psyche.
So now we need to focus on the flipside of the coin; because nothing is ‘all negative’.
**•** My son learnt the letters of the alphabet on his own, thanks to his Ipad. These gadgets can be educative, as they stimulate the child’s imagination and enhance his listening and speaking skills. They make the child competitive.
**•** Interactive games sharpen a child’s reflexes and promote ‘out of the box’ thinking. They also improve the hand-eye coordination.
**•** They are superb stress busters ☺
Friends, excess of anything is bad and the line between the real and virtual world can get blurred. But there is no room for worry. We as parents need to spend some quality time with our children each day, singing, reading and playing outdoor games with them. Technological advancement needs to be welcomed, but with necessary moderation. As for me, I have mastered “Unchartered” on PS3; you guessed it right, my son is my mentor. ☺
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