The best gadget you can give a child is a physical book – one they can pick up from a shelf and read themselves. That’s what Steve Jobs did. That’s right. Steve Jobs did not give his children iPads. The Apple CEO made it a point to have dinner with his family every night, at a long table in the kitchen, and discuss history and books and different matters which affected the children in their daily lives. That’s because he understood the power of gadgets over our lives. He wanted his children to learn in a 3D world.
Research is very clear. Children have impressionable minds. The younger the child, the stronger the addiction will be to the glow of the screen. Of course, it is more than just the glow of the screen. Brain research suggests that sensory overload from images on a screen stunts neural pathways that create greater focus. Hand-eye coordination activities like playing with LEGO bricks, instead, create great focus and strong neural pathways in the brain.
Low-tech activities are the best gifts you can give a child. I cannot stress that enough. Please don’t take my word for it. Google it, research it, read about it – there is plenty of research out there which will tell you children will not be left behind unless they know how to navigate a digital device. On the contrary. This book or this book would get you started on this research project. (Both are affiliate links.)
So what should you do? Limit your children’s screen time to no more than 30 minutes every day. For younger children, even half an hour may be too much. Babies under two years of age should have absolutely no screen time. The Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against it.
We have chosen to allow absolutely no video games in our home, not even educational apps. Pen and paper exercises work just fine.
Scared that your children will get bored? Don’t be. Children have played outside with sticks and stones and bicycles for centuries. That’s what they do at expensive Waldorf schools in Silicon Valley – where internet executives send their children to study.
More than anything, let your children play outside. Time spent outside is the best medicine for a growing mind. Kids in Singapore spend the least time outside (two hours per week) and their eyesight suffers greatly.
I hope you understand I am not against technology. I’m a blogger. I’m a Kindle self-published author. But I am an adult. I am aware of the pull screens have on me. Also, I can fight the addiction to Pinterest, Facebook, and the internet in general because I was raised without computers, in the late 70s. Last but not least, I understand what a waste of time it can be. I login, do my work, and get out of there.
But children are impressionable and their brains need to learn habits of focus and thinking. These habits do not happen in front of a screen.