Children's apps are one of those topics that invariably divides parents into two camps. Some strongly oppose the use of various app-based technologies, at least until their kids go to school, while others embrace advanced technologies to the maximum, allowing children to play with gadgets with breaks only for food and sleep. In this article today, we’re not going to convince either side, but instead will talk about the ‘happy medium’ and discuss the basic rules and recommendations for children’s apps.
Gadgets should not replace real-life communication
It would be so easy: give your child a tablet and then you’re free to go about your business while the children sit quietly, absorbed in the bright digital world, but there’s no such luck. No gadget can offer children high-quality, real communication. What would a quiet family evening even look like in some families when everyone’s at home? Everyone would be sitting with their heads buried in their gadget, occasionally exchanging a few words. A classic phrase comes to mind: "Kids don’t remember their best day of television." It's the same with gadgets. Connect with your kids, communicate, go on walks, and if you want to spend time at the computer, then choose games and apps that get you involved.
There should be a limit to the time that children can play with gadgets. It is up to the parent how much time children can spend on a tablet. But before you give your child a gadget, you need to agree beforehand on the allocated time as well as any other conditions. For example, you can have breakfast together, go for a walk, do something useful together, and then they can play for half an hour before lunch. With small children, a timer will help. For older children, you can install a program that automatically turns the tablet off when they reach the limit.
Sooner or later, every child is inevitably going to come into contact with the digital world. But the content they choose: endless shooting games and flickering figures or a quest with complex schemes, depends on their first experience with gadgets. There are a great deal many children's apps, but they all must first pass the so-called ‘parental censorship’. Sound, image quality, content, and meaning are all important factors - After all, children absorb everything they experience around them like sponges. Do you want your son or daughter to appreciate classical music, be interested in art, and be clearly able to express their thoughts? Prioritise apps that have meaning.
The benefits of entertainment
Apps are not only fun, but are definitely a benefit when you use the right approach. For example, thanks to one of the applications we used, my son quickly mastered the alphabet. At the age of four and a half, he learned to read and since then it’s impossible to pull him away from his books. At the age of 10, he has already read far beyond the school curriculum. When it comes to gadgets, we use this approach: here's an app for learning English, do something useful first, and then you can play games. There are so many apps for learning and childhood development and you only have to select and apply ‘parental controls’. And don't forget about the screen time limit.
And one more thing…
When you use modern technology, having rules is a must. To avoid future problems and misunderstandings, at home we discussed the rules about when using gadgets is unacceptable. For example, it’s not acceptable during family dinners or when you have guests, as well as in theaters or at concerts, etc. Moreover, this rule should apply to all family members. And yes, that includes you, dad on a walk with a smartphone in your hand :)