Let your child master technology
Ensure your child achieves balance by not being too dependent on technology while getting adequate exposure to it
Singapore's push towards being a Smart Nation has led to rapid digital transformation.
With digital devices taking on such importance in the way we function, it's timely to look at the debate on children's usage of such technology.
It is commonly agreed that excessive usage is harmful for children, as it can hinder their social development and overall well-being, and should therefore be prevented.
I have found that it is beneficial for children to achieve balance by not being too dependent on technology and yet getting adequate exposure to technology so that they don't fall behind in a time where so many aspects of our lives are being digitised.
Learning to use digital devices wisely allows children, from a young age, to start thinking critically about the content that they access online.
This will help them in the future to identify, for example, online falsehoods.
Starting early will also build skills that will allow them to be adaptable and savvy as they grow up, move into tertiary education and enter the workforce in a world where technology constantly and rapidly progresses.
The job for us, as parents, is to ensure that our children are using technology wisely. How can we go about ensuring that?
The key posture to adopt is that technology should not master the child. Rather, it should be utilised as a useful tool that aids their functioning.
For example, while traditional learning through books should not be eschewed and have some benefits, learning can be made more interactive and appealing to children through animated apps and educational games.
Piquing children's interest in learning is the first step towards building a lifelong love of gaining knowledge.
Technology can also be a platform for creative expression.
If you have children with artistic inclinations, they can use digital devices to gain skills in coding, photo and video editing, all of which are in-demand skills in today's workforce.
Often, children may want to use a digital device not because they are personally attracted to it, but because they see their friends using it.
If other children are using mobile phones and your child is the only one who isn't, there is the risk of your child feeling left out because they are not engaging in the same digital journey as their friends.
Unless there are strong reasons to restrict your child's usage of technology, avoid such a situation by exercising discernment and discussing it with your child.
Games are particularly important, because there are those that start out innocuously but may contain harmful content as you level up.
Ultimately, achieving balance is the key.
There should be alternative activities that your child indulges in so that technology is not the be-all and end-all of your child's entertainment.
The end goal is to nurture a healthy, well-rounded childhood that allows the child to develop well holistically.
The writer is Assistant Professor of Health and Social Sciences at the Singapore Institute of Technology, and a member of the Media Literacy Council. He will be speaking on children and technology at the British Council's parenting seminar, Raising the Future: The Tech Generation, this Saturday. Seminar tickets are available online. To sign up for the event, visit this site: https://www.britishcouncil.sg/raisingthefuture