By GAYATHRI NAIR
There was a time when parents feared their kids watched too much television. Today, the idiot box is joined by gadgets – from computers to tablet PCs, mobile phones, flip down car monitors and interactive application toys.
In an average household in the city, most kids would be exposed to at least two to three gadgets.
The technology revolution has sparked a new debate about how much exposure kids should be allowed and how technology interferes with their personal development as well as whether it has a negative impact on them.
There are parents who think technology is good, and then there are those who think it should be adopted in moderation.
Whatever your stand, there’s no denying that today’s parents find it easier to educate their children using tablet PCs and smartphones. For example, allowing children to perform research using a tablet PC helps them complete their homework faster, and they learn more in the process.
“Using the Internet also makes it fun for our children. They tend to develop a creative side and thus become over-achievers,” enthuses electronics engineer Jackie Veleyuthan, 44, father of 16-year-old Joe.
Veleyuthan supports the use of computers and finds the Internet a good source of knowledge for his son. However, as a parent, he believes he should be responsible for what his son is exposed to.
He says that even things like gaming forums and chat clients can be beneficial for his son.
“When my son joins gaming forum groups or spends time on instant chat clients (on Facebook / Twitter) he tends to chat with other teens around the world. This, I believe, encourages cultural harmony and sparks a wide interest in different people and cultures.
“When he gets to know someone from a different region, it helps him pay more attention during Geography lessons since he has formed ‘connections’ with his Internet friends and wants to know more about their country. This indeed sparks a bigger interest compared to just reading facts from a text book.”
Homemaker Tisha Ng, 28, mother of two boys aged eight months and 3½ years, agrees that technology can be beneficial, but she would still rather raise her kids the old-fashioned way.
“While I know that the advancement in technology can have a positive impact on kids today, I still believe in educating my kids sans computers, laptops or phones.
“It is important that they are able to go outdoors to touch and feel a plant and see how it grows rather than learn about it from the Internet. Hence, I limit the usage of technology with my boys.
“When they play with items like plants, or see a fish swimming around or even find a bird’s nest filled with eggs, it piques their curiosity more. I believe it helps them in the creative department and encourages them to explore further.”
Dr Edward Chan, principal consultant psychologist at the International Psychology Centre, says it’s not all bad. “Educational software can improve a child’s learning ability in ways that may be difficult for teachers to achieve.
“Picture play, interactive options and other activities are easily attained with gadgets such as tablet PCs and computers.
“Although the learning methods are different and in some ways may even cause ‘laziness’ amongst children when everything is just a click away, it also is convenient and the interactiveness further stimulates brain functionality.
Taken from ParenThots, thestar online, www.thestar.com.my.