Most of us grew up seeing screens during our childhood. TV, computers, and even gaming consoles have been a part of our childhood. Many of us probably wrote our first school essays on the home laptop. So, by the time we applied for our first job, we were proud to mention Words processor fluency on the CV.
Nowadays, technology is part of everyday interactions and operations. So, it makes sense to look for solutions that are kid-friendly to help our little ones get familiar with it. Unsure where to start? Here are some tips and ideas to inspire.
A fitness smartwatch
Fitness trackers are game-changer gadgets that transform our lifestyle and improve health.
Fitness trackers have been instrumental in helping many adults keep up with an active routine. Many are motivated to see real-time stats, such as step counters and calories burned. Additionally, smartwatches also bring extra features, such as letting users take calls or read texts from their watches.
While you may not be ready to invest in an Apple watch, you can check fitness smartwatches that are specifically designed with children in mind. Young children can enjoy reading their step counts and staying active all day to boost their results!
Besides, the smartwatch also encourages them to be more independent. They know they can easily call for help using the watch. So, your child could feel safe running errands for you or visiting friends. As watches are fitted with a GPS tracker, parents can easily know where the child is at all times.
Should every child receive a smartphone? As much as you want to protect the innocence of their childhood, every child is school age could benefit from using a smartphone. There’s no need to invest in an expensive device and contract. You can opt for a light device with SIM only deals. Why would a child need a phone? There could be many reasons why a child may need to contact someone:
- There is a problem with the school, and they need your assistance
- They are on a school excursion, and the trip is running late; so they need to warn you
- Someone said they would pick them up, but they didn’t turn up
- The teacher asks for a contact number
- Sometimes teachers use education app that connects with students’ phones
- The bus is late, and they need to plan an alternative route or know when the next one comes
- It is part of everyday socialisation routines for their generation
A SIM plan can allow them to make and receive calls and texts. You can also find plans with data, so children can use their data for essential apps such as bus routes, Google Maps, messenger apps with friends, education apps with the school, etc.
Does my child need a tablet or a laptop?
Typically, the school can help you answer the question. Many schools now include a tablet as part of their standard education sets. Therefore, many parents don’t have a choice anymore. Modern technology is part of the student’s journey, as young children need to:
- Become familiar with everyday tech
- Build up confident tech skills
- Practice lessons through a suitable medium (digital)
- Work or contribute to school projects digitally
Teachers will often configure programmes that can monitor children’s performance and progress through digital activities. In other words, it’s not a matter of whether or not you should buy a tablet for your child. Schools rely extensively on modern devices. Some of the most popular devices recommended by schools include:
- Workbook tablets
- Small Chromebooks
Is a tripod useful for children?
Tripods for smartphones will keep the phone stable and in the same position to capture a photo or a video. As parents, we tend to think of tripods are essential equipment for professional photographers or social media influencers. But when it comes to children, it’s hard to imagine what they could do with a tripod. But there are different options, depending on your child’s interests and school.
Children who have a sports passion can use the tripod to record themselves. Whether your daughter is an enthusiastic soccer player or your son loves acrobatics, capturing their performance on video can make a huge difference to their motivation. Indeed, it’s a great way for them to improve their skills. They can watch the video and spot mistakes. It is especially helpful if they are trying to learn a new trick!
A class presentation can be a source of stress. Children can find it tough to practice their speech and relax in front of the classroom. But they could set up the tripod to record themselves. It can help them get in the right mindset and appear natural when they speak in front of their classmates. Additionally, if a child is sick and can’t attend a presentation, they can send the recording to the teacher. Alternatively, they can also record the presentation in front of the class for scoring.
Finally, learning foreign languages is awkward. It is hard to remember how the teacher pronounced specific words. Setting up the tripod to record the lesson can transform their understanding and involvement with foreign languages.
The social media debate
Many parents are reluctant to let their children on social media until they are old enough. Most social media platforms, such as Facebook, set a minimum age of 13. It makes sense why young children could be exposed to risks on social media.
Social media platforms can be a fantastic tool to network and develop communication skills. However, instead of using platforms that are designed for adults, you could have a look at children-friendly social media apps that encourage communication, exchange, and education. It will help children build social media awareness without taking risks.
An important thought for parents: If you believe that your child is too young to create a profile on Facebook, Instagram or any one of your favourite networks, you need to ask yourself whether it is okay to publish pictures of your child. Indeed, anything that is posted online becomes hard to erase. An innocent picture about their childhood could become an excuse for bullying in later years if their classmates decide to make fun of the photo. Be careful about how your posts could affect your child in the future.
Should a child have a Spotify account?
Can there be anything not suitable about music? As parents, we are quick to answer. Yes, not every song is suitable for young ears. Thankfully, the Spotify team is well aware of the risk of some songs falling into the wrong ears. There is an option to create a child account, where your child can only access kid-friendly content. The service may feel too childish for teens. However, it is the perfect solution to safely introduce young children to different music styles and artists.
Additionally, the content is cleverly divided by age. So, younger kids can enjoy their favourite Disney songs, while older ones can build a playlist of eclectic tunes that is safe to listen to.
Teenagers are likely to rely on messenger-like applications and services, keeping in touch with their friends on platforms such as Discord, WhatsApp, or even Snapchat. For teenagers over 13, while apps can still be dangerous, you can help educate them about the risks of reaching out to strangers. They can also build a connection with relatives who use the same apps.
Unfortunately, messenger apps are not an option for younger children outside of school-promoted applications. If you are concerned about your child using apps they shouldn’t, smartphones can let you set up parental controls on your child’s device. So you can prevent them from downloading some applications or making some purchases.
The addition of filters on the phone
Many apps allow users to add filters to their photos. Using filters is one of the most destructive things an individual could do to their self-esteem. Filters not only distort reality but they also create impossible expectations. Excessive filter use can lead to self-esteem issues, increasing the risk of:
- Eating disorders
- Harmful skincare hacks to get rid of acne or scars
- Normalising makeup for extremely young individuals
Therefore, if your child has a phone, it may be safe to add parental control to reduce the risks of them being exposed to damaging filter apps. Many filter extensions are completely free to use, and some are already included in social media apps. Besides, you can rest assured that if you forbid your child to use filters, they will find a way to include them in their photos! So, rather than banning filters, you may want to have an open conversation with older children and teens about fabricated beauty standards. Explaining to and showing your child what “beautiful” people look like in real, unfiltered life can help protect their self-esteem and mental health.
In conclusion, our children are likely to learn to use their phones, gadgets and computers at the same time as they learn to read, count, and write. Unlike us, they are growing up not only surrounded by technology but also using it naturally in day-to-day life. It would be unwise to prevent them from developing tech confidence. There is so much they could gain from early tech exposure. However, as a parent, your role is to protect, educate, and empower.