Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

New and emerging technology has always been associated with the younger generations. Older people tend to be set in their ways, leaving those under a certain age to discover gadgets and gizmos as they arrive on the scene. Younger people learn more quickly, and that goes for technology in the same way it goes for everything else.

However, how young is too young for kids to be exposed to technology? It’s a question all parents have to answer during their children’s early years, deciding when they should allow their offspring to embrace the future with gadgets such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. And it’s a question that formed the basis for last week’s ‘We Ask You‘ discussion.

The Results

We asked you, At What Age Should Kids Be Exposed To Technology? We had a great response from the MakeUseOf readership, with a good number of you airing your views on the subject. The range of opinions was huge, with some people declaring that there should be no minimum age restrictions, and others having definite ages in mind for particular gadgets.

There were extreme views on both sides, but the majority of people take a common sense approach to this quandary. They let each child choose their own interests, and that goes for technology as much as anything else. However, some level of control is usually put in place.

This means that kids will be exposed to technology slowly, and then have that exposure moderated by their parents and/or guardians. As the comment of the week demonstrates, a big thing is ensuring your kids have a rounded set of hobbies, which may include technology but not be wholly reliant on it.

Ads by Google

Some thought that the question posed ought to have been slightly different, and that it’s more important to ask how kids are exposed to technology rather than at what age they are exposed. We’ve covered this issue in the past by asking, “What steps do you take to protect your children online?

Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of Alexander Mackenzie, Mel Johnson, and null, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Schvenn, who won with this comment:

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.

We liked this comment because it takes us through a personal experience, with a father recounting how his son got to grips with technology. It also shows how technology isn’t harmful to a child’s education in socializing and being an active member of society when it’s experienced in moderation.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Paul Inkles

  1. Steve T
    October 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    My kids were exposed to technology from an early age, the thought being if they grow up with it, they stand a better chance of treating technology as second nature. I do however ensure they also experience the real world as well - just last week they went here: http://forestschoollearning.co.uk/ and learnt so much about the great outdoors. There really is a line as a parent where you have to make sure your kids are exposed to a mixture of experiences, not just apps that can be purchased from iTunes!!

  2. Pooky Joralyn
    May 25, 2013 at 10:31 am

    As a teen exposed to tech early in my life, I can say it's very good if the kid is responsible. The first time I got my hands on tech stuff was when I messed around with my parents' cell phones when I was around 5 or so.

  3. Emma Atkin
    May 23, 2013 at 3:47 am

    As a mother I have tried to combine technology and outdoor fun in a way. I dont want my boy becoming an overweight kid who just plays video games. Of course every kid wants to play video games and I think its good for them in moderation. I had the most success with an iphone operated remote control helicopter. With this, we have gotten outdoors to play with it and its kind of like a video game at the same time. Meh, not exactly an old-school activity we used to do as kids but still lots of fun.

  4. Bublegum Blancaflor
    May 23, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Kids shouldn't be exposed at a very young age. Maybe in school but not at home, especially when they got stuck in playing games.

  5. DalSan M
    May 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I started at age 5 and learned to code in BASIC language. It has kept me interested and eager to learn more. As far as what age should children be exposed to technology, it depends on what kind of technology it is. What it comes down to is when the child understands how to respect and use the technology without being rough with it. Having a 2-4 year-old that likes to pound on anything that gets into his or her hands means that they are not ready for more delicate items like a computer keyboard or mouse until proper usage habits are formed. There are many kid friendly devices out there, so starting out with these would be better. Understanding that computing devices are more of a tool and not a toy is very important, just as respect and good habits when using technology is important. Since we are in the digital age, learning about technology, how to use them, then become fluent and proficient with technology would only help the future of children. Digital learning is taking over book and pen-and-paper style learning. This can be both good and bad, it just depends on if the technology is being used as a teaching aid to view content, or as a tool in which actively and constructively applying the concepts to learn is being used. Just as with watching TV, if children were to use computers and technology to only view content, knowledge can be learned, but not skills since they are not being applied. In most cases, this causes children to become lazy, then become easily bored with the more important aspects that technology can have. Teaching in a constructive way helps children stay interested in applying knowledge and skills learned, keeping their minds sharp. Parents, though, need to teach the proper usage habits in order to reduce some of the health risks, such as repetitive stress injury (carpal tunnel syndrome) and vision problems from viewing monitors and screens for extended periods of time, as well as online risks such as hackers and predators as well as viruses and malware. Just as parents would not allow a child to use objects like pencils and forks in an unsafe manner, the same should be applied to computers and technology.

  6. null
    May 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Around two or three! This way they will have learned to interact with people, But at no matter what age they start using technology you must enforce these are tools!

  7. dragonmouth
    May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    We, as parents, have no choice about at what age children "should be exposed" to technology. They start being exposed from the moment they are born, just as they are exposed to language, human interactions, socialization. Technology is all around them (and us). Children cannot help but be exposed and they WILL learn technology on their own.. All we, the parents, can do is to guide them through the process.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      I guess that is our job as parents, when it comes down to it. Banning your kids from doing something usually just means they find another way of doing whatever it is you don't want them to do.

  8. suzanne williams
    May 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I don't think that there should be any age limit to expose your child to technology. Whenever i look around i always find kids nowadays are more techno savvy.They absorb things more quickly then us. i have found my niece as soon as my sister is back home she takes up her laptop somehow opens up YouTube and enjoys her favorite show and she is only 4 years old. I think if we always focus on positive things and trust our kids and encourage them, it will always have good results. So technology is always good if it valued in the right way.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      It's always good to look on the positive side of things, and I agree, in moderation technology is fine. I do think there's a danger in letting kids do whatever they want though.

  9. Zhong J
    May 22, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Like many parents excluding me, childrens always influence their early childhood through technology because think for a second, when we put their attention into games devices like: gameboy, ipod, ipad and consoles: we don't give a second thought. I mean, it's a good way for them to interact and think at hand but the Internet produces mixed results. Of course, there will be an age where kids can just type an URL or go to google and look at whatever their mind wishes. This temptation can lead to all sorts of addiction or disorder and for us adults, it's an concern.

    For many scholars, it's their prominent weapon at their field and bore people also take this cake to have some "excitement". Then there are individuals with no purpose, aimed at creating attention and fame through misdemeanor.

    Kids with sensitive or fragile mind can't tolerate they cyberspace, suicides and murder may have committed from such injury. I'll tell my children (if I have any), to be prepared and mature to handle their own action with the knowledge of what kind of people on the net will be.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Will you actively encourage or discourage your (potential) kids to use technology though?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *