At What Age Should Kids Be Exposed To Technology? [We Ask You]

we ask you   At What Age Should Kids Be Exposed To Technology? [We Ask You]Those of us over a certain age will likely have been shocked at least once over the past few years from seeing someone very young using technology that didn’t even exist when we were their age. It’s surely a startling sight to see a 6-year-old using a computer, or a 10-year-old tapping away on a smartphone. Or perhaps I’m just old and liable to being startled easily.

Seeing kids using cutting-edge technology is certainly a relatively recent development. But I guess it isn’t a surprising one. After all, the technology exists, parents own it and (over)use it, and so kids are likely to want to follow suit prematurely. Should this be something we embrace? Or should kids be encouraged to leave technology alone until they’re old enough to fully embrace it?

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, At What Age Should Kids Be Exposed To Technology? We’re using “technology” as a catch-all term, but we’re really talking about new technology. Television sets have been around for a long time, so they don’t count. But smartphones and tablets are relatively new innovations, so seeing young children using them as though they’ve been around for forever is more surprising.

laptop baby   At What Age Should Kids Be Exposed To Technology? [We Ask You]

How young is too young for a child to be handed a smartphone? Would you let your child use a laptop or desktop computer? If so, are they trusted to go online without supervision or is their use heavily guarded to ensure the seedier parts of the Internet are avoided?

Do you encourage your children to play outside or are you happy for them to stay in and play video games all day? If so, do you worry about them playing online and meeting unsavory individuals?

Tell us your story, or recount a story from a family member of friend. If you don’t have a story to tell, just tell us at what age you think kids should be exposed to technology. If indeed you think there even should be a minimum age limit.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and 150 MakeUseOf points to use for MakeUseOf Rewards. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Paul Inkles

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100 Comments -

0 votes

ASHOK KUMAR

The question is “how “? Technology today is so pervasive and ubiquitous. I think it is next to impossible to do that.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

Do you mean how to stop kids being exposed to technology? That’s a good question. Even if you as a parent decided to try and limit their exposure there will come a time when you’ll lose that level of control.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’m okay with children being exposed to technology, but the question is WHICH side of technology? It saddens me to meet those who don’t know their cool laptops/tablets/smartphones are beyond games, Facebook, and Twitter. Maybe I’m being snobby, but a year 12 student who didn’t know there’s a ‘find and replace’ function in Ms. Word shocked me.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

That’s a good point. I used “technology” as a catch-all term, but there are of course a multitude of different devices, some of which must surely be better for kids than others.

6 votes

null

My kids started @10 and 11 [now soon 12-13] with my wife approx 3 yrs ago with win xp on an old IBM PC not much use, ‘cept for my wife [email, some web, some openoffice]. They all complained. So I got a $90 HP PRESARIO FROM MICRO Center pre loaded with win 7. They never got to see it, cause I loaded Linux Mint Lisa and now the curriculums at school push PC need higher. At 1st, my wife complained, would not let me show her around and generally whined and with Firefox [I taught them all on it so no learning curve] LibreOffice [very close to OpenOffice so no learning curve again], and their gmail accounts, they are all adapting well [using flash drives, learning proper directory creation SO THEY CAN FIND STUFF]. My opinion is >10 yrs old for PC, PAD OR SMARTFONE with web, WITH ADULT SUPERVISION AND OPENDNS ENABLED. 3yrs -up for PC, PAD OR SMARTFONE WITH NO WEB. I put my kids wifi PADs, & the adults Smartphone macs, in the router MAC ALLOWED LIST, to be able to instantly cut off their access, and prevent any intrusion, right from my galaxy S3! Make 2 entries per device, make the real one and the dummy “reminder mac” changing the last digit, make it +1. Example mac 11:11:11:11:11:1x, make the dummy by taking x and add 1. Leave that one alone and deny/remove the real Mac. Need to re-create, just copy and -1 the “dummies” x value. I use this to strike “fear” and instill [some] cooperation [from my 12 and 13 yrs olds]. Sorry I digress. I use Linux both to keep me sharp, but mainly, to prove to the 3 of them, that it is very close to the M.S./school perpetrated “beloved” Win experience. When the Boss says were dumping M.S. they will be ready and my wife still uses it! I came from Timex Sinclair and cassette tape, DOS3.0 to 6.22, WIN 3.0 on up to today, figured out unix (from my dos, at work [to support and use HPOV ON SOLARIS], 5 flavors of linux [currently Linux Mint Lisa on hd] and Android Jelly Bean. An Android Jelly B tip I figured out from my DOS knowledge: That is, to hide from the “gallery”, most movie players, [built in or added] a directory full of “private data, movies, etc”, just put 2 dots in front of the directory name, made by you, example: DADSTUFF becomes ..DADSTUFF. I asked Samsung and they were clueless so I put my experience to bear. Take away the dots when/if you want, or faster, just use a good file manager [File Manager by Rhythm Software] just go into the “hidden” dir and directly clik “file to play” and voila, playback right from the “hidden” dir.

My Vista PC and my Gal S3 are my premier tools, they tie all other tools I have, in many categories, together, by enhancing the knowledge I possess regarding each one, enabling an all around richer use of that tool, sparking ideas, or projects, new techniques, do I need to go on?

In Summary YES, kids need to work with computing devices but they must be supervised [for help more than anything] because frustration in a yung-un is the quickest way to have them turn off to this great device. As we move forward, we will HAVE to do all of the same jobs/tasks with new equipment/OS upgrades, period. As time goes on, just find this new OS’s “way to do”. A new OS under your belt, comes easier than you think, the next is easier, and on and on….Challenge yourselves. Be a Wizard! GoldRush1 20130516-042000

0 votes

Dave Parrack

In other words, yes, kids should be exposed to technology, but only with strict supervision. Thanks for your comment :)

1 votes

null

Dave, I think you meant “In SHORTER words” (big smile on my mug).
I try to be verbose, I feel more info = stimulated thinking, the trick is to transmit in “packets” both in real life and writing so the receiver is not overwhelmed. EASIER SAID THAN DONE, I admit! At least with writing you (the reader) can take it in, at your own control! 20130519-034100
¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

2 votes

Degenerated S

Kids should not be too much exposed to technology at tender age…. Exposure of technology causes lack of communication in kids and they also they interact less with their parents , friends and surroundings….

2 votes

Kay Fritz

I think that´s not completely true. For sure a child that tends to loose himself in playing would also loose himself in his fascination for computers. But when a child is interested in a lot of stuff and rather would change her focus often, it would loose interest soon.

I base that on watching my two daughters grow up, who are very different and both were exposed to technology from her first day of life.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

Is it any different than children from the 1950s who were planted in front of the TV? In terms of face-to-face communication it cannot be helpful, but is online communication any less worthy?

1 votes

null

I have to say, your comment seems a bit un-enlightend, I get the vibe you don’t have kids or you have a newborn or one on the way? That’s really inconsequential, though. Walk into any place that allows the “public” to enter, look around, and you will see the vast sea of technology we ALREADY HAVE! I respectfully suggest you broaden your stance. Your awkward English, in your first sentence, is a clue for me that you might need some ELA brushing up, or you are very young, yourself, which is OK.

My point is that, they should be supervised all along the “way”! It’s hard work, to be there, alongside [them], for so much time, but it’s kids upbringing 101, if you are a parent, like me, who is, “all In”! Realistically, it is the best way to connect with your “kids”, and I see it as time spent, VERY WELL! 20130519-041200
¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I beg to differ. I think exposure of technology is good when done right. I don’t like children who are so busy with their gadget to actually socialize, but children have to know technology and the proper utilization. In the future IT skill is invaluable, especially with current rapid progress. A child who spends all day playing iPad games is not given the right exposure of technology. A child who knows where to create folder for his homework files do.

0 votes

jonen

its not about when, but how

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Can you expand on that point… how do you think children should be exposed to technology?

7 votes

Alexander Mackenzie

I am no anthropologist but have a few opinions and experiences I will share. First I’ll start with a statement which is key; digital/tech fluency is as important today as mathematical, literacy, linguistic and social fluency. We need to expose our children to technology as we would expose them to words or social interaction. Indeed to a certain extent this is already happening, babies are expose to technology in that the television is on, the baby monitor is right next to them etc. The answer to the question “at what age should kids be exposed to technology” is: at birth. But this bring up another question “to what extent”.

As I’ve expressed I think that technology should be treated the same as speaking etc. children but one does not speak to a baby and expect a intelligently worded and well thought out response. Neither should we expect children to be use a laptop from birth. However, this brings me to recount a story told to me by a friend about his 3 year old granddaughter. Long story short; she walked up to the TV and pressed and moved her fingers around it, expecting it to work like a tablet computer. The fact is is that children now expect technology to work for them. She now has a huge advantage over the generations that preceeded her. Even mine – the “millenials”, the “digital natives”. It will be that much easier for her to be in the workplace, already 84% (the number from 2009 that I managed to find) of American jobs require computers, a number which I can only see increasing to 100% in the future. This has been a rather waffly answer, thank you for your patience!

1 votes

Dave Parrack

The tablet story is an interesting one. That whole form factor is one that feels really natural, hence why children and oldies take to it really well. Thanks for submitting a very well thought out comment.

1 votes

null

I applaud your comment, AMEN. I suspect you use “waffly” maybe to mean you’re covering multiple sides, if it does, it just gives us (the readers) more info to “stew on”. If you mean, too lengthy, Bravo (it just gives us (the readers) more info to “stew on”). This is good writing, don’t apologize, especially since you did research! I LIKE IT! 20130519-042500
¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

1 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

A young cousin came visiting and he attacked my laptop screen thinking it would behave like his dad’s phone. I’m amazed at how familiar today’s children with current technology, but at the same time I notice their tendency to reject things that don’t work the way they know or want. They don’t understand why people do things ‘the hard way’ and some of them wouldn’t try anything they deem complicated. I think this is why Apple products are so popular (no, I’m not bashing Apple–It’s a good market player).
I agree children should be exposed to technology. It’s a necessary skill to stand out in the future.

0 votes

Koshy George

Negative 1 Billion.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Is that the current price of Bitcoin? ;)

2 votes

Christian Cawley

I think the answer is “when they need to be”. My two year old twins are dab hands at prodding an iPad or hitting a keyboard in mimic of their parents, but this is just cheek – they have no interest in using the devices as intended and we have no intention of letting them.

But there is an advantage here for the future generations coming through. Being so familiar with using these devices should hopefully unlock some curiousity in some children and inspire a new generation of digital geniuses.

2 votes

Dave Parrack

You don’t actively encourage them but would you stop them if they were to express serious interest in using your devices at such a young age?

0 votes

null

I agree Dave, [kids] expressing interest, is sometimes missed, and parents can subsequently “miss the window of opportunity”! I can attest to that. I took an old serial keyboard, cut the wire off, gave it to the boys at 2-3, and they would not put it down. I had to quickly do it, to another KB, to avoid tiffs! 20130519-043300 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

1 votes

Christian Cawley

I can’t see them being ready dextrously for another year, and I have plenty of old gear that they can get to grips with if necessary.

However I would rather keep control of how they expressed their interest. I don’t want them using tablets when the more tactile keyboard and mouse solution is available, for instance, and I don’t want to encourage the use of digital games while they still have a toy collection.

Part of this comes from the parent as well, though. I want their digital education to be as important and structured as everything else they learn.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I like your view. I think digital education should not replace ‘real world’ experience. Playing virtual lego is not the same as real lego. Reading ebook is not the same as gripping real paperbound in your hand. Balance is needed.

2 votes

dragonmouth

I think the question should be “At what age should kids be PURPOSELY exposed to technology?” Because whether we want it or not, whether we realize or not, our kids are exposed to technology from the moment they are born. Children pick up technology the way they pick up everything else, by osmosis or by imitating others. Does anyone set out to teach children how to curse? (I certainly hope not) However, kids somehow pick that up somewhere.

I let both of my children bang on an inactive TI-99 by the time they were three or so. It was in self-defense. It gave them a computer “just like Daddy’s” and kept them away from my PC. By the age of 4, both girls were playing simple games on an old Apple II. By 6 or 7 they both had their own PCs with the software that each chose. After a few years, I replaced Windows with Linux. The kids took to it like ducks to water. In fact, after getting familiar with Linux, they preferred it to Windows. When the younger one got to high school, all freshmen received Macbook loaners for their school work. For the last 4 years she has been using the Mac exclusively.

Neither one of my daughters is going into a “technology” field at this point. What happens later on is anybody’s guess. But that is true for all of us. My older one is mechanically inclined. If she has to she can work on a car, build or fix a computer, use most of the tools around the house. My younger one is interested in technology only as far as having a smart phone and a computer to use. Doesn’t know and doesn’t care about the nuts and bolts. That’s what she has Daddy for.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

Your experience suggests kids will find their own level of interest in technology by themselves, regardless of how and when they’re exposed to it.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I agree. Both I and my brother were exposed to technology at similar age but while I got the interest to ‘try everything and break everything’ my brother is more practical, like dragonmouth’s younger daughter. Still, parents have to manage the correct amount of exposure.

0 votes

null

Fantastic! Wish I had you as a neighbor! 20130519-044000 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Fantastic! Wish I had you as a neighbor! ”

What do you mean?

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

To provide occasional parenting advice and tech service?

2 votes

Kevin Liske0

We’re of the mind to limit access and exposure. Our child is now 7. We know he gets hands use of computers at school and his friends have gameboys or old iphones. We let him play for very limited periods on our tablets. We know that obsession is coming as he gets older, but for now, we’re instilling a love of reading books and doing activities that don’t require technology. We have to fend off questions and requests for gameboys, xboxes, and other video game tech because some of his peers already have these things. We have no objection to these things…heck, I play BF3 nightly after the youngling goes to bed. We just don’t want him to not have solid internal resources later in his life. I think that maybe in 2-3 years we can talk about getting a cheap laptop or xbox or something
he use within more relaxed limits and supervision. Ideally, at that point, I can encourage some self motivated learning by saying things like “You want to do that? Well, if you can figure out HOW to do that, then you may do so”.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

You’re taking a stronger stance than some of the other commenters. It’s interesting you mention reading books, as that is another area technology is encroaching on with tablets and e-readers.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I still can’t encourage using ebooks to replace real books, and I don’t see myself doing that in near future. I really like my laptop and I test softwares in my spare time, but reading (excluding online articles) is the only area I don’t let technology to interfere too much with.

0 votes

null

Variety is “the spice of life”. Excellent 20130519-044300 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I like your stance. The question you pose to your children is reasonable. I got my first console when I was 9, long after I cultivated reading habit and learnt computer.
We just don’t want him to not have solid internal resources later in his life–> This. Are current parents somewhat too lax on their children? I’ve known many who buy these things just because their children want them. I’m still young. My parents aren’t strict, but we never got things just because we asked for it.

0 votes

Harish Anim

hmmmm

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Comment of the Week right there. It’s just so insightful!

0 votes

Harish Anim

lol i just ddnt know what to say well yeah i shouldnt have commented but just putting up my empty opinion but thanks for noticing!

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

You know, it matches your profile picture too. Really insightful!

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Thankfully you don’t get MUO points just for commenting these days. Someone has to like your comment. Which may happen, just for comedy effect :)

2 votes

haris Ali

Kids should be exposed to technology, but not like buy em a macbook, a tablet and iPad and a phone, but give them an incentive like “you take an A grade and ill buy you a PC”.
I started using a PC when i was 2 years old. The Result? I’m now 14years old and i can build a PC from scratch, develop software and apps and have become an app developer for android.
So my opinion “YES” children should be exposed but should maintain their Grades, otherwise it can affect your childs mental growth.
Regards
Harris

0 votes

Degenerated S

but it creates the lack of communcation in children with thier surroundings n friends

1 votes

haris Ali

It doesn’t. Keep a check on your child. Limit them and tell keep a limit of say 1hr per day of computer games. Also, send indulge your child in sports and other activities.
If you keep everything balanced, nothing will go wrong!

Regards
Harris

1 votes

null

You are looking at the world, [it seems to me] through a “filter” created somehow, from what you, feel, perceive or have seen, maybe from a narrow event, [a small sampling of data with which you formulated your view] that seems to have jaundiced your view. Look around a little more out there, become enlightened, Good Luck. 20130519-045300 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

1 votes

dragonmouth

“You are looking at the world, [it seems to me] through a “filter” created somehow, from what you, feel, perceive or have seen….”

Isn’t that what we all do? Look at the world through the “filter” of our own experiences?

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Agreed. No one can say they’re ‘without bias’. We all have our own bias created from our experience.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

This gets to the very heart of the question. You were exposed early on and are clearly proficient with technology, but did you miss out on other things — forming friendships, playing out, etc — as a result?

2 votes

haris Ali

Honestly speaking, No. I have great friends, im pro at football and everything is perfect. If you keep a balance, nothing goes wrong. Im also physically fit (which even non computer users aren’t) so that clearly tells us that technology is something that is not harmfull unless you make it.

Regards
Haris Ali

1 votes

null

I also agree, both boys [>than 125 I.Q.'s] do VERY well in school, firstly, and my oldest is a Little League and travel “ALL STAR” and my youngest plays his heart out in LL and the travel team, that I am batting coach for. I don’t like pro baseball, per se, I played “streetball” but I love kids BB. I needed to have new info, so I farmed the net [2010], got videos to learn [and then teach] the newest batting strategies. I downloaded, converted for editing, edited, titled, voiced over, [with my freeware, and the only program I ever bought, Pinnacle Studio], then burned to DVD. I created many copies for all the kids, to have, to watch [with their family] and hopefully, begin to reverse the bad [but well intentioned] “instruction” taught 7 or so years ago, when they all started out LL, before the “youtube sensation” that spurred better dissemination of video information and teaching, globally, available to anyone who reaches out for it! No machine, or tool, I own can match it! Now, as of 5/13, we are exploring Metal Detector “treasure hunting”. HMMM, there must be a video……..20130519-052800 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Yeah I received the same treatment too. Now I’m 18, and while I don’t develop apps, I can say I’m confident with technology and I can do troubleshooting and stuff. Children should be exposed to real technology but not without solid parenting.
Just curious, what app do you develop?

0 votes

haris Ali

Android apps. And i developed a ROM for my tablet too.

2 votes

phogey2

I had all of the kids started at 1 yr old. Started with mouse & desktop .Teaching them how to work digital camera so they could see what they did. Then to the phone & laptop . I cannot tell you how many hrs I’ve spent looking for websites that are ok for them & games that are fun but teach you something. Now they want a touch screen but they can be very unkind to tech gear like ok its broke but you can fix it . Yes I have repaired & reinstalled & learned a lot along the way. fyi 7 kids

1 votes

Dave Parrack

You have seven kids? Wow, how do you cope with such a large brood? Touchscreens are a very natural interface for kids, so as long as you can find a sturdy device that will survive the onslaught, do it.

0 votes

null

Another Dad who is “all in”. I like it! 20130519-053200 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

1 votes

Andrei Bogdan

Well , kids should be exposed to technology pretty early , but not to social media or luxury stuff like expensive smartphones .

0 votes

Dave Parrack

It’s a brave parent who hands an expensive smartphone to a young child.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Totally agreed! I don’t count them as real technology if you know what I mean. They should be introduced to technology that will benefit them–perhaps how to use word processor or painting app, or stuff–not social media or just games. I like games, but that shouldn’t be the only aspect of technology exposed to a child.

0 votes

Hugo

I don’t think that there is an age, i think that if kids have curiosity about the technology, why don’t encourage them? Obviously, the entire process must be with the parents.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Parental Guidance Is Advised!

0 votes

Ran Kinory

Any time he is curious enough to be interested in what happens on the screen.

2 votes

maggie

Children should be exposed sooner rather than later. Younger brains learn quicker and easier.I don’t think there should be a minimum age. OF COURSE there has to be supervision – you wouldn’t give a toddler a tricycle without teaching them to ride; and watch they are safe, No matter what things you show, teach and allow children to use, you have to supervise them!

1 votes

Richard Bhagan

My child is one and a half years old and can load mickey mouse clubhouse on my wife’s iphone. he is savvy to several gestures and can call his grandmother.I believe that once age appropriate material can be guaranteed, there is no limit to what children should be allowed to use, from PC’s to tablets to having their own smartphone. It is not so much technology but what they are looking at.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

That is true, of course, you have to be aware of what sort of sites they’re accessing. But you don’t think it’s in any way harmful to a child’s development letting them use technology from a young age?

2 votes

null

It depends on what is intended by the word “exposed.” My grand daughter was born in Oregon last October while my son was in a tent in Afghanistan. Thanks to technology he was able to watch the entire birth on Skype. He and his wife Skyped on a daily basis when he was in an accessible place while in Afghanistan and because of this our granddaughter knew her father well and took to him immediately when he got home (about 2 weeks ago).

1 votes

Dave Parrack

I have to say that is one hell of a good use for technology. I don’t it applies to this discussion because the child wasn’t actually using the tech. Still, it’s a warming story.

1 votes

LesS

A child as young as two or three might do well on a tablet or other touchscreen device, four or five for a mouse and/or menu interface. Much depends on the child and the app; physical co-ordination is developed by use but interest can be lost by too much frustration. A proper balance must be maintained between solitary activities vs. activities with playmates, and also apps versus books. Video needs to be limited whether is interactive on a device or passive TV viewing. Total electronic time should be less than two hours daily for a young child and no more than 15-20 minutes per use. I think those time limits should apply to children’s leisure time at least until they are teenagers. Otherwise they will sit around on their fat butts 8 hours a day or more, and grow up thinking that it’s normal.

Your question is too broad, and unless you survey device-by-device and use-by-use I don’t think you will be able to draw any useful conclusions.

1 votes

Dave Parrack

Perhaps the question is too broad, but I like to include as many people into the debate as possible.

Is sitting around on your butt for 8 hours a day abnormal then? ;)

1 votes

Todd Hofer

These days it’s impossible NOT to expose your kids. I think the biggest question is: “As a parent, how will you go about protecting your kids from bad stuff as they are being exposed to technology?”

1 votes
1 votes

null

[Free] OpenDNS.com can help, use it at home, and all devices in the home network can be “controlled’, to easily stay ahead of such “bad stuff”. It is “outside the house’, offsite as it were, so as long as your password is secured and your kid can’t hack it, OpenDNS is good stuff. Tell your kids friends parents, so a simple location switch wont work either! All in all, still no substitute for, “being there”. 20130519-054900 ¯¯¯ GoldRush1 ¯¯¯

1 votes

Catherine M

IF you are using it with them, let them discover all kinds of concepts – even a one-year old can grasp visual concepts.

HOWEVER, please ensure your little one gets 10X the exposure to real-life hands on experiences.

TOO MUCH of a good thing becomes a BAD THING!

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Everything in moderation isn’t a bad maxim for life.

1 votes

BrantleyPowell

My daughter has made leaps and bounds with colors by using a simple app that shows balloons and once pressed they pop saying the color that they were.

Technology is such a general term but in the event it helps a child develop and learn online or not then it should be used. It is all about is the parent going to be there and be guiding the experience or not.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

I agree, and I didn’t suppose young children would be left alone with these new gadgets. There are some wonderful educational apps out there.

6 votes

Grant Allen

i would say as soon as they won’t try to put it in their mouth is fine, but there must always be guidance otherwise their development will be rogue.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Ha, good point. I’m not sure how much baby saliva a Nexus 4 could cope with.

1 votes

Evan Greenwald

I don’t have children, but as a techno-savvy older man, I see children doing some amazing things these days. I believe it’s never too young to learn anything, the children who show an interest can be taught, but you should block anything you don’t want them to see, and that goes for any age really. I think it’s all up to the parents, hopefully they would be willing to supervise their children properly and be good enough with the technology involved to keep their children safe.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

The parents have to be involved or it’s asking for trouble. Saying, never too young” is quite a statement. Would you stand by that?

1 votes

Doug Dieckmann

With my grandchildren 600 miles away, Skype is a lifeline to visiting them. the 8 month old turns to the camera and smiles so there is no minimum age for that technology

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Wow, that just shows how far communication tools have come in a short space of time.

0 votes

Vigan

I say even from 5 years, but they need control of timing.

0 votes

waruna abeykoon

my poinion is that “kids” should not be exposed to technology.. but teenagers can be sxposed with sufficient monitoring for some time. because as they explore the world through the technology without much knowledge about its effects is a risky thing. we have to answer the question how can we expose our children to technology.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I think with moderation it’s alright for children to cope with technology, lest they will grow up to think it’s a foreign concept. In the future knowledge of technology will be sorely needed so if you don’t let them exposed to technology until they reach teenage age, it’d give them disadvantage. As a parent, it’s your role to ensure they know the effects and digest knowledge appropriate for their age.

0 votes

Rodrigo Graça

What age? “0″ in my opinion, why should we limit them??, if you have less than 6 years you can’t use a phone!!! why?

0 votes

Dave Parrack

So you would hand a toddler your phone or tablet? That would be a bold move. I’m not saying it’s a wrong one, but certainly a bold one.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I could lock and unlock my mom’s phone when I was 6 and discovered that an image couldn’t be viewed if I delete the ‘.jpeg’ or ‘.jpg’ part in the filename.
I think you can hand your phone to your kids once they’re out of ‘everything in my mouth’ age.

6 votes

Schvenn

My son watched me use the computer his entire life.
When he was 30 months old I sat him on my lap and went to Bear In The Big Blue House’s website.
I clicked on a jigsaw puzzle they had there and was about to tell him what it was when, to my surprise, he took the mouse from my hand and without looking, started moving it over the pieces, clicking, dragging and dropping and putting the puzzle together.
Up until this point, he had never touched a computer before.
He had only seen his mother and I use them, but never had the opportunity himself.
We quickly grabbed our video camera and started capturing the moment on film.

He had his own computer at four.
We let him online at twelve, albeit with great supervision.
We gave him a smartphone at 14.
We weren’t going to do so that early, but he’s proven himself very responsible, so we have rewarded him with that trust.

He also knows that with my level of technical knowledge and ability to monitor, I can at any point, determine whether or not that trust has been ill-conceived.

Yes, he’s a gamer and loves to play inside more than we did as kids.
However, he is also a member of our local YMCA, works out every Saturday and volunteers every Saturday evening.
He has just been accepted as a member of our city council’s youth advisory board, is joining the local volunteer ambulance service, is a member of a youth engagement squad (involving the city, school board and YMCA) and he has a couple strong possibilities for his first summer job.
He’s now in his second year of highschool, an honor roll student and wants to become an architectural engineer.

I like to think that his constant exposure to technology has had something to do with his successes.
He has excellent communication skills, more opportunities available to him than we had as children and a better CV under his belt already than many people I’ve hired in the many years I’ve spent in management.

While it may seem like our son is an over-achiever, he’s really not.
He has all the challenges a typical teenager does and we are not the type of parents to push, just to encourage.
However, without technology opening up his opportunities to communicate and learn, I doubt he would be doing as well as he is now.

So, once again, there is no minimum age.
Our children absorb more than we think and we should never underestimate them.
We need to trust, encourage and reward them.
Technology can be a fantastic tool for parents and children, if we use it responsibly, as well.

(By the way, what happened to your Disqus comment system?)

1 votes

Dave Parrack

You seem to have been able to find a healthy balance for your son. Or perhaps it’s a natural instinct for us not to shut ourselves away at the mercy of technology. An interesting comment, regardless.

(We ditched it last year and the new one has been working well ever since.)

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Interesting story. Again, this proves that moderation is the key. As long as everything is balanced, exposure of technology will give one huge advantage.

1 votes

edz

You will agree with me that the era we are and growing into is technological, no doubt about it. Exposing children to this system that they will later get to know control their way of doing thing is a helpful thing.
I will send my child to school of technology from the very moment he or she start to pay attention to details which happen from age 1 in most kids I know.

1 votes

Frank Kenyan

We have a new government whose ride to the presidency included a promise to give a LAPTOP to every CLASS ONE school entrant. That’s around 4-7 year old. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they won, but it has since elicited mixed reactions from everyone.
For example, what does that aim to achieve, a six year old with a laptop is useless, it’s still too early! Conversely, they can be given e-readers, but STILL, they are too young. I think 10 years is fine, for basics in computing- with internet restriction, its an insecure world out there!

1 votes

Dave Parrack

It’s interesting that you think six is too young for a computer, whereas a lot of commenters are saying there should be no minimum age. Safety is certainly an issue, but assuming that’s taken care of would you be happier with younger children heading online?

1 votes

xsuperchick

Children should be exposed technology with caution. Not for long, but make them capable to understand how a tablet works before they get to handle one and break it. They need to be able to help their grandparents to change their background picture of their iphones just because kids are curious and you shouldn’t stop this. They should watch TV at some point of the day, but make them get more interested in animal planet, discovery… make them fans of myth busters. Children should be exposed to technology around their 6 or 7, when they are learning what’s good and what’s not good. They will learn to take care of their own things and they will develop new skills. But all this being measured, nothing in excess is good and that applies especially to little kinds and their new discovering minds.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Children should be introduced to technology as early as possible, BUT after they meet real book and paper. Do not make them too reliant to technology, but let them know various things you can do with a device. The term technology here doesn’t apply to ‘click, click, win’ casual games, mind you (no offense to those who like these kind of games. I just think it’s not good to introduce them to this first). Expose them with computer/tablet, let them explore by their own. I love console games as a child–I still do, but I think I’m fortunate enough to be exposed with books first and grew reading habit. This way a child will understand technology, how to use them wisely, and have decent attention span (hopefully). I meet internet when I was 5 and began learning computer at 7. Most of things I know came from trial-and-errors and lots of reading.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

I’m still an advocate for printed books, but the way things are going I cannot see them being a thing in 20-30 years time. The thing is, kids may read more if the books were available in digital form and capable of being dipped in and out of, so eBooks aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

5 votes

Mel Johnson

In general, I believe that age 7 is when a child’s brain is developed to the point that screen-time isn’t too damaging. Obviously, this is a totally unsupported statement. I remember years ago reading (I couldn’t tell you where now) that until age 7, a child’s brain is meant to stay in creative play and exploration, and is not suited to or even capable of intellectual activity. Screen time squashes creativity in the brain.

My observations of kids using technology earlier than age 7 supports what I’ve read. I watch the young kids in my life, and when they play much on a phone or laptop, they become very lethargic, grumpy, uncooperative, even moody (almost depressive — and I think in fact their brain activity has been “depressed”).

Yet when I see kids a bit older using the same things, they come away from it less affected. You still have to pull them away, but it isn’t as difficult.

I also wonder about the effect on their eyes and other senses, and of course, I think all day in, playing video games or anything sedentary, is only going to exacerbate the already rampant epidemic of obesity and the accompanying health conditions (diabetes, hormonal imbalances, etc).

Use of technology, especially playing games on phones and laptops, is also so addictive, I don’t think young kids can really handle it. Frankly, I don’t think most anyone can handle it, myself included! (Where do those hours go when I’m playing my favorite games?) I can hear myself justifying as I go, just as the kids do – just one more, just to that level, just to this score!

And I certainly believe a parent or guardian needs to be monitoring activity until they are out of the house, just for safety sake! Way too many predators out there to not do your due diligence on that score! Difficult, I know, but as important as keeping them securely seat-belted or car-seated in a vehicle. Basic safety necessity.

Thank you for asking these question though, these topics are of great importance now! Best, Mel

0 votes

byron

I think probably not at all before age 6 and very, very limited until age 15.

I have noticed that these youngest people are forgetting how to talk to each other. Using technology can be very beneficial, but it can also lead to isolation from other people. If you can buy everything online, get all your entertainment online and even work from home through the internet, that can be very isolating. Even technology that purports to ‘connect’ people can blunt the development of ‘people skills’; for instance, if you are texting, you can not pay attention to the other party and read their response only when you feel like it. In a real conversation, you are forced to focus on them and react in real-time.

we have enough anti-social types running around. I think that unfettered access to technology before one has developed socially will only exacerbate this problem.

0 votes

Hsiung

When ‘kids’ or ‘anyone without intellectual skills’ have access to technology, they won’t be able to discern useful information from opinions on everything they read or view on videos posted on social media Web sites. A ten-year-old girl next door spends much of her after school hours watching soaps from her mother’s tablet, unsupervised. She went to a decent private Catholic school, so I assume her teachers are paid well to teach her manners and give her a proper education. But I do overhear her cursing at her brother, using those phrases likely learned from the soaps. Fortunately, I am no parent, but I am an educator. The pupils in my classrooms are supervised so that they only go to the instructed Web sites or approved sites during free time on their computers. I monitor their monitors on my teacher’s master monitor and block any monitor’s activity when a pupil enters an inappropriate site. Not surprisingly, many pupils don’t want to be controlled as to where they can browse, but I take my responsibility for my pupils’ action in my classroom. Do all parents or caregivers do the same for these toddlers or teenagers at home? You decide.

0 votes

Becca Wright

We as parents got into the internet when it was 3.11. I have taught my kids all at a young age. Now, its available in today’s technological world. We supervised and coached them about the dangers. Our kids also had all the games-online or off, etc. Our kids were still active in playing outside with there friends. We also did family activities. Boy Scouts and Girls Scouting, sports. Teaching them is a parents job. Not the world.