DO set guidelines for caring for devices with children early on. Make sure children understand these devices need to be used gently. It’d also be wise to invest in screen covers and cases for devices to help prevent any expensive accidents.
DO try to find apps or games for children that are interactive, age appropriate and can encourage participation from parents or caregivers, suggests Dr. Rebecca Palacios, senior curriculum adviser for Age of Learning. She says it’s important for young children to have the feedback of an adult when using electronic devices.
DO monitor device usage with a device like you would with a television. Muhs says it’s important to limit screen time for children so they can develop the social and physical skills that come with interaction with others and the world around them.
DO use technology strategically. A game or application on an electronic device is just another tactic to reinforce what children are learning in other hands-on activities.
DON’T use screen time to replace personal interaction. It’s important to remember the world is still a new place for toddlers. We may be content staring at a tablet for several hours, but there are still a lot of seemingly simple concepts little ones have yet to master.
DON’T let children under the age of two use tablets. While there is no conclusive research proving mobile devices change the ability of a child to delay gratification, there are studies that show television viewing by young children may lead to issues with attention and concentration later in life.
DON’T use time with a tablet or smartphone as a reward for positive behavior. This sends the wrong message to children, as a child’s motivation for good behavior shouldn’t be bought.
Embrace the future
There’s no stopping it—the amount of technology and mobile devices children encounter will continue to grow. It’s important for parents and educators to know how to manage this usage responsibly while finding ways to leverage the learning opportunities children can have with preschool technology. Mobile devices may be more complex than blocks or crayons, but when used strategically they are just like any other tool in the metaphorical child development toolbox. You may not realize it, but the little things you do every day – like reading to your children or teaching them a new skill – might just be a sign that you’d make a great teacher.