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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.
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.
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