In the name of lockdown, kids have become the new landlords of tech devices in the house. Phones, tablets, laptops have all been usurped by our mini-mes all in the name of on-line school. Privileged parents who can afford to provide these tech resources to their wards may feel the battle has been won. But is the battle over yet?
The Morakinyo twins (both girls are 10) belong to the privileged class. Not only do they have laptops of their own, they both possess iPhones. In this part of the world, Nigeria, that is a big deal for kids to have in their possessions both an iPhone and a laptop. Bimpe, the younger of the twins (by 20 minutes) and also the more aggressive and restless of the girls, broke her laptop screen. She now relies heavily on her iPhone. Lately, she complained that the charging port of her phone seemed not to work and she’s getting fed up with it. Bimpe insisted that Bunmi shares her gadgets with her during online classes. But Bunmi would want none of that fuss. The girls, in addition to the ongoing ‘civil war’, have had their eyes checked recently and had to be given recommended eyeglasses. This is due to the glare from the device screens. Now their sights have become poor.
You must have noticed how natural kids fiddle with devices such as an Android phone or a tab. Prior to the advent of the coronavirus, lots of parents simply gush with smooshy smiles when they see their little angels handle their gadgets. They marvel the way babies handle the devices as if there is a particular gene that tells them to do so. Then they let out that expression of satisfaction and happiness, “awwwwww!” Fast forward to now. Parents and kids are on a war path as to who owns the gadgets in the house! Kids are like saying, “We need the devices for online school!” Parents are like saying, “Hey! WE ARE PARENTS. WE OWN THE TURF!”
Let’s leave the war zone and take a look at the good, the bad and the balance of kids using these gadgets.
According to research, 70% of responses say technology is good and impirtant for kids. This coronavirus lockdown time, nobody needs to tell you that. Someone said,” I think that technology is good for our children. Technology now allows our children to have an incredible amount of knowledge at their fingertips….” Yes, one knowledge they now possess is that they get to control the gadgets in the house.
The amount of information now at the kids’ fingertips cannot be overemphasized. For the curious child there is an ocean of information online. Especially now that school is online. Even the teacher is now online! Homeschooling used to be an alternative education. Now out of nowhere, it has been thrown right at our faces like a pie.
Prior to coronavirus, it was idealistic to imagine that grandparents who live far away can just read a story or sing a lullaby to Junior via Zoom or Skype. Now, because kids are so overwhelmed by online school, they are becoming so aversed that if granny tries to do the Xoom or Skype thing again, they are going to ask if its time for online school again!
30% at www.debate.org say technology is bad for kids. One user had this to say, “There is an evil lurking behind kids using technology all the time. Kids become enslaved to these devices. They develop dependency on readily available solutions, create an ‘external brain’ and hinders development toward active curiosity. This is not healthy for a child’s developing mind and psyche.”
Photo: the sun.co.uk
Allowing children all day by themselves in front of an electronic device instead of interacting with people and learning to build relationships can cause a child serious anti social behaviour.
Technology is a double-edged sword, but the good side is shinier according to www.debate.org. Every improvement and change in technology must have very thoughtful consideration and moderation when used.
Parents can avoid the hidden evil in technology by encouraging a healthy use of devices through these suggestions:
1. Limit screen time to, if possible, 2 hours for all screens combined.
2. Pull the plug on the TV and pull out a chess or Monopoly board. Set days where you as a family cut out as many electronics as possible and you’ll be surprised to see how much fun you can have without them!
3. Be very aware of what your children watch and play and choose games and programs that will not cause them harm.
4. Teach them to ask themselves whether a program is good for them.
5. Provide them the fundamental skill of making correct decisions for themselves.
Some say coronavirus is here to stay. Technology and devices have certainly found their headquarters in schools. There is no point shielding your kids away from it. The best you can do is to find ways of benefiting from what is available to you and your child.