Kids and Gadgets - The Dilemma

6:44 PM


We've heard the funniest and the most disturbing stories about the supposed effects of gadgets on children.  We've seen it on our children, our children's friends, and the children of our friends and family.  But somehow, in spite of knowing better, we give in and find ourselves in a dilemma.

The Age Factor

It is quite common nowadays to see very young children lagging their gadgets along wherever they go.  For those who are too young to carry it themselves, a parent or a caretaker will most probably do it for them.  The gadget is like an accessory which the child needs to be with him constantly.

Children as young as 2 to 7 years are being given their own tablets intended for educational play or some sort of handheld video game. Older children are being given the privilege of having their own laptop and cellphone or interactive games mimicking sports activities.  The market appears to have just the right gadget for children at any age with the common proposition that such gadgets will keep them entertained while providing education and communication when necessary.




The Common Scenario

The joke that tells of a mother having to call or text his son through the cellphone just to ask him to get out of his bedroom to have dinner when they are in the very same house speaks of more truths than any other serious story.   We have become so dependent on technology that we are forsaking even the most basic human social interaction within our family.  We can almost anticipate the continuation of the story to be that of the son texting back through the phone as well.  We can push that story further into ridiculous proportions by imagining mother and son eating their dinner and still communicating with each other through text even while already facing each other.

Children seem to retreat to their own world once they have their gadgets.  A whole day can come and go without them realizing that they have not done anything else but play or interact with the gadget.  Parents for their part can be guilty at times of allowing this to happen for the sake of having their kids preoccupied while they attend to other matters.

Are Gadgets the Enemy?

This is not necessarily so with the exception of gadgets that directly teach and encourage children to be anti-social or to commit bad behavior, if there is such a thing.  Technology is not the enemy but it is the behavior we allow ourselves to adopt because of the availability of such technology that leads us to the problem.  When technology becomes a substitute for parenting, then there is no way to go but down.

Children need to understand that there is a time for everything.  There will be a time for play, for interaction, and to be alone.  Computers and other gadgets have their place in a child's life bit it should be nowhere be near the center or the sole focus of his life.

Generation C

The children born from year 2000 and up are said to constitute the so-called Generation C for Connected.   These are the children who have and are having the most exposure in manners related to gaming and social network technology.  These are the children who are usually connected online, taking an active part in a world where even the adults sometimes flounder.



My Say

I read in one article about a study conducted in the UK that says in effect that about one third of parents actually regret giving gadgets to their children.  It goes on to say that these parents were mainly concerned about the effects of gadgets on their children's patience, creative, and social skills.  Another interesting point in the same study is that two thirds of the total number of parents asked, blame the gadgets for the reduced amount of family quality time.

This study though not conducted in a widespread level still makes a fair representation of the actual scenario happening in  households all over the world.  My take here is that the problem has been identified which is too much gadget time is bad for children.  What parents and children need to find is the solution.  

That solution lies in parents putting their foot down to instill limitations.  There is no need for quibbles and quarrels especially if an agreement has been reached before such gadget was purchased.  There is more problem to be tackled with children who have already gotten accustomed to unlimited use of gadgets. This is where parenting will have to find its way to succeed.   

There is no shortcut, just consistent parenting guidance and attention that will provide other options to children to make better use of their time.  Gadgets are very entertaining, that is a fact but believe me when I say that there is life beyond gadgets, especially for our children who are in the development stage.  

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51 comments

  1. My son started using psp when he was two, we immediately replaced it after it fall from the bed. At first he was dependent on using it , he plays a lot even during eating time. I am glad though because now that he is 5 years old he understand when to play and when it is not the right time.

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    1. The earlier children understand that there are limitations,the better for them.

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  2. This is indeed a huge dilemma for most parents. Just recently, we imposed that Friday afternoon they should go out and play, Saturday morning should be spent reading books and in the afternoon they can use gadgets.

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    1. It is good that you have already instituted rules regarding gadget use.

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  3. My kids are pretty much gadget freak but i guess it's all about balance too. They play gadgets, they play with the laptop but they play with their usual toys and doodle using pen and paper too! I make sure they get enough physical activities as well by bringing them to the playground. And when it's study time, everything must be turned off.

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  4. this really poses a problem to mums of today, but i guess we just need to strike a healthy balance as to when we will allow our children to use these gadgets + for how long will they be allowed to use it, say in a day or in a week. parents must also discern on what age would they allow their children to use these gadgets.

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    1. Again, balance is the key to preventing gadget use to cause negative effects.

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  5. IMO, we should only give kids gadgets when they are really ready for it. For the meantime that they are still growing up, let's say he/she's two or three, give him/her other educational toys appropriate for their age. :)

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    1. There is a reason why products have age recommendation which is to determine appropriateness.

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  6. That's an interesting dilemma while kids having gadget may lead them to get hooked on it but once you see them so still with their handheld gadgets, you can't help but appreciate the trade off. My take is gadget is good but moderation of it is the key.

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    1. We cannot overemphasize the importance of moderation in gadget use.

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  7. oh well, I am still in dilemma about this.. but I am a bit resolved that they can only use it for a very minimal time.

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    1. Does "a bit resolved" mean unsure? If this is the case, there are many of us.

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  8. Sometimes gadgets become enemy for me. Especially I have a TEEN now, she is always making "babad" on her gadgets. No time to help household chores. And I hate it, I hate the gadgets! It is not my fault that she had a PSP and Cellphone on her own. Her Grandfather buys it for her.

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    1. I hope your situation can be resolved soon.

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  9. Some parents are giving gadgets to their children so that they will not disturb them and there are parent who are jealous of the gadgets they'd given to their kids because the kids full attention is already in the gadget and forget about their parent. Only to remember them if they want another or different one =)

    It's the parents responsibility to teach their children. Anything that they give will have a consequence. So parents should think hard before giving anything to the kids =)

    What a life =)

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    1. What a life indeed! Damn if we do, damn if we don't.

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  10. I think everything should be given a balance. I may not be a parent yet. But I've personally witnessed this situation when it comes to kids and their gadgets. My niece started playing with my Kuya's iPad when she was 4 years old. And since then, she stopped playing outdoors. Since her mom's always busy with work, she lets my niece play with the iPad just so she could keep the little girl still, which is what I didn't like when it came to her parenting. She's 6 now but now more engrossed with the laptop and her mom's iPhone. The sad part about it is, she still can't read. How I wish all of those gadgets taught her how to read and write along the way. At least, that would've made a difference somehow.

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    1. I feel for your niece. I hope her parents can find a way to change the existing situation.

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  11. My daughter, who is now 5 yrs of age, is a gadget freak. I mean, she loves using the lappy, the psp and even the phone. She even knows how to connect gadgets to our home wifi in case I disconnect them. Kids this days.

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    1. Children of today are more knowledgeable than adults when it comes to gadgets.

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  12. Technology for children isn't bad at all specially those gadgets that focus more on teaching these kids educational things or activities. The sad flight is this: quality time between parents and children is thrown down the kitchen sink. At their tender age, children must know how to value and foster fellowship amongst love ones. Good read here, friend.

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    1. Parents and their children should reach a compromise for gadget use so that family time is not sacrificed.

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  13. I find these funny and cute. I got friends who got kids also and I always laugh at them whenever they whine about their kids getting addicted to their gadgets. haha!

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    1. I believe you'll get a little concerned when the problem involves your own kids.

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  14. yes it's true... and children even learn faster than adults operating these gadgets... but it's sad that it really lessens the quality time family members spend with one another. i hope there is really devoted day in a week family members agree to disconnect from gadgets... and just 'connect' with one another at home... wishful thinking... :(

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    1. A day dedicated to connecting with family- now that is some sound idea to be done asap.

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  15. Gadgets on children may have a negative effect but on the positive tone they are really updated in the fast changing world shall I say. :)

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    1. Gadget use have positive and negative results.

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  16. You should see my nephews and nieces. It's glued to their hands all day.

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    1. Might be the right time to introduce limitations.

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  17. My nephew plays on the iPad since he was a few months old. Now he's almost two and his vocabulary is amazing - plus he's very tech-savvy for his age. Not only is it about discipline on usage, but on the kinds of information accessed through tech that matters in my opinion. Good post!

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    1. Yes, the kind of information obtained from gadget use is quite important.

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  18. Like all things, gadgets can be nice tools for development or can even be the enemy of development. Depends on how we use them.

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  19. My 2 year old daughter is always asking for gadgets but even if I know that will be beneficial stuff for her, I simply do not give in because I don't want her to lost her childhood through the gadgets that she has. I mean, I would let her use the computer from time to time to watch educational and developmental movies but other than that I let her play on her own.

    I kind of find it cute when she plays pretend, hihi!

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    1. Parents should determine first the possible effects of granting a child's request to purchase a gadget.

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  20. I noticed that there are lots of kids who likes to play infront of the computer inside instead of playing and interacting with other children outside.. I always wonder why parents give psp or phones to their child at such an early age. they should be playing piko or something!

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    1. Gadgets are like pacifiers. They cause children to be still but may result to deformity in lips as in the case of real pacifiers or emotional if character if done habitually.

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  21. So cute adorable kids in the photos. My say as a mom, it is fine for children to try gadgets but parents should limit the usage and guide their kids on what to play or use.

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  22. These innovations contribute to the advancement of technology. The higher technology becomes... the higher the price we have to pay. And for this matter alone, our KIDS may be victims of the cyber world. Parents' guidance should take over beforew it's too late.

    My husband and I do set the limitations on the usage of these gadgets. They somehow get the point and understand the risks if ever they overuse them.

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    1. When children understand why gadget use is being limited, they tend to follow and listen.

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  23. I just noticed that nowadays when kids misbehave, the parents just use ipads or hand held games as a thing to keep their kids quiet or settled down. It's more convenient for them I guess!

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    1. Probably for most parents harassed with other concerns, gadget for children is the most convenient option.

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  24. I agree that it's up to the parents to set limitations on use of gadgets. I use a timer for my kids whenever they use the computer and Nintendo DS. They can only play for a max of 30 mins per day and that's only on weekends. If there's school, using these gadgets are a no-no.

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    1. Setting limits is the job of parents especially for very young children.

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  25. Recently, Dr. Queena Lee Chua gave a talk on the effect of media to Filipino Children. You can also check the website of Special Education Philippines for complete details. As a parent, we made major changes in media exposure including use of electronic gadgets after several researches also came up about media's negative effects. After making those changes, we saw the positive effect mostly in improving attention and concentration. So we decided to go easy on the use of media. However, we experienced the same problems again so we decided to stick to the restriction of media exposure for our child especially during his growing-up years.

    http://www.specialeducationphilippines.com/2012/09/01/what-media-does-to-a-childs-brain-from-dr-queena-lee-chuas-talk-during-the-family-congress-2012/

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    1. Media does have a profound effect on children since they are still quite impressionable.

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  26. I have given my son a psp when he was 2 and when it broke down i bought him another one but thanks hod he is not addicted to it. He still has time to run around hos bike and scooter, play with his hotwheels and play hide and seek with other children. Dpende lang cguro sa parents yun

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