TECHNOLOGY and CHILDREN
The real game and learning world of the child should be the real world, not the virtual one. The knowledge gained or the game played with a real ‘other’ is vital for the child’s mental health.
But since we live in the age of technology, it is an undeniable fact that technological tools occupy a very important place in our lives. Therefore, it is very important to use these tools ‘appropriately’. First of all, it should be accepted by parents that they are ‘objects’ and can never replace a real other, and parents should be a role model for their children in this regard. These tools are the tools to be used when information is needed, when you want to have a good time and when you want to learn something new. However, they are neither a method of dealing with problems nor the first way to socialize. If used properly, they can become very useful.
Studies have shown that if used properly, the Internet and technological tools improve creativity, increase split attention, contribute to fast processing of visual information, increase problem solving skills, improve visual intelligence and assist in adapting to the developing world (Blumberg & Sokol, 2004).
However, in order for such positive contributions to occur, parents should be able to recognize and use the Internet at least as much as children. Parents should know about the Internet usage style of children, duration, where they use it, for what purpose they use, what content is suitable for which age group, and whether it is suitable for the child’s biopsychosocial development and the special period in which they go through. Also, children should have an idea of which Internet channels are safe so that they are not exposed to negative content. But above all, parents should not forget that they are a model for the child with their use of technology (duration, content, benefit and practice).
Internet Usage Duration and Content by Age Group
0-2 years old
It is not appropriate for children under 2 years of age to be exposed to the Internet, television or computer. American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that before they are 2 years old, children should be kept away from media exposure. The reason for this is that the virtual world prevents children from experiencing real game culture, involves the danger of exposure to stimuli that are not yet suitable for their development, and reduces the child’s awareness and creativity (Arslan et al., 2014). From 15 months onwards, children can begin to understand the information presented through technology providing that parents watch the technological content with the child and teach it to the child. In the absence of a parent, children cannot learn technology by themselves. In this age group, it is more suitable for a child to use technology when in physical contact with one of his parents (such as taking the child in his/her lap, putting his/her hand on the child’s shoulder), as the child has difficulty separating reality from fiction. During this period, parents should prefer games and cartoons that will improve the child’s language and visual skills. The contents should be plain, simple and as slow as possible. Sound and screen light should be reduced. Programs, cartoons, and games with this content can prevent the development of the child from being harmed. In general, games that include music, painting, colors, geometric shapes, and games that increase focus and attention should be chosen.
One of the indispensable parts of healthy development of young children is quality sleep. Children need calm and passive activities before going to sleep. However, the screens where the images change very fast and a wide variety of stimuli are presented prevent children from relaxing and calming. Therefore, it is necessary to stop using technology at least 90 minutes before sleep.
3-6 Years Old
The child should be helped to grasp the functioning of technological devices. In terms of eye health, the distance from the technological device should be at least 45 cm, and the child should be sitting in an upright position. The child should be informed about the duration of use in advance (recommended time is 30 minutes). The right to use technology should not be used as a reward-punishment logic for doing daily activities such as eating, doing homework or performing some responsibilities. Every child will want to push the limit set for him/her. That’s why, using technological tools by sticking to a certain routine (specified days and times) will help protect the limit. Technological tools should not be provided as a pacifier when children cry; otherwise, they will reinforce the child’s using crying as a tool to get what s/he wants, and thus the intended purpose of use is not achieved. In addition, it is known that technological tools are used as an important amusement during this age period and the usage time increases due to the lack of alternative activities (Ateş and Durmuşoğlu Saltalı, 2019). In order to prevent this, it would be beneficial to create a “Boredom List” with the child. In this list, there are activity ideas such as jigsaw, flower watering, playing dough, painting that the child can do alone and enjoy doing. Having a reminder list for children and parents who use technology because they don’t know what to do will make it easier to manage the process. Physical contact rules (such as sitting in your lap, holding his/her hand or putting your hand on his/her shoulder) and limiting use before sleep also apply to this age group.
This age range is also the period in which children’s play and gender roles begin to take shape. The content that the child will be exposed should be free from masculine (roles of rescuer male-victim woman), dominator (having a single authority as a decision maker), racist (discriminative expressions over black, white, yellow and red skin colors), sexist (angry male – delicate, emotional female figures) ) and abstract (death, being an angel, metaphorical meanings) contents as much as possible. Educational games and educational content should be preferred.
This age range generally coincides with the preschool period. In this period, programs prepared to teach educational and positive values to children have provable positive effects. For example, it has been observed that the children who regularly watch Sesame Street have more improved school readiness skills and vocabulary compared to the children who watch it less. Similarly, community-oriented programs such as Lassie, Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street , which emphasize sharing, politeness and benevolence, are known to have a positive effect on children’s behavior (Huston & Wright, 1998). From this point of view, it can be said that the duration and the content of the children’s exposure to the screen are rather important rather than a completely restrictive approach.
The way characters speak, dress up and eat is very important. In addition, families do not realize that there are ad contents in some computer games and cartoons. For example, if the cartoon character eats French fries and candies and such food is restricted or prohibited for your child’s health, you have to be careful.
7-11 Years Old
In the first 4 years of primary education, apart from homework, 45 minutes per day should be reserved for games and entertainment. In the following years, though the weekend can be more flexible, it is suitable to use 1 hour per day. Prepare weekly internet usage schedules and ensure compliance. Besides, it is not appropriate to put only Internet usage on the schedule. Children need routines. Just like the time to go to school, to eat, to do homework, the time to spend time on the Internet can be determined. Using it during the same hours every day will contribute to his/her adaptation and healthy use. “Boredom List” can be used for children who use technology because they do not know what to do and get bored in this age group. Encourage them to write down activities they want to do, but do not have the opportunity, and encourage them to do one of the things they write when they need it. Do not serve the child at the computer at meal and tea times, let him join you. Make sure that it is used in common areas, not in his/her room. Using it in his/her room will put the child in complete isolation and remove him/her from your supervision. Identify and discuss a technological topic you can talk about. Talk to him/her about the games s/he is listening to or playing. Go online together, play games or watch movies and then talk about these activities. In other words, help him/her transfer the information that s/he has acquired in the virtual world to the real world .
As for the content to be preferred for this age group, logic and intelligence games, coding, strategy games, vocabulary games that develop verbal skills and foreign language games are among the useful options.
However, when the total effect of watching television (computer, tablets etc. including all kinds of screens) instead ofeducational programs is considered, it has been determined that there is a negative correlation between watching a lot of television and school success . In other words, as the television viewing rate increases, school success decreases (Huston and Wright, 1998). In another study, it was determined that watching too much TV has a negative effect on the development of reading skills of both girls and boys (Ritchie, Price and Roberts, 1987). For this reason, it is more convenient to watch the programs that are controlled by parents and prepared for the development of the child pedagogically over the Internet.
In addition, the existence of content that uses violence as a problem-solving tool in computer games and programs watched is not suitable for the development of children. Studies conducted shows that physical aggression levels increase as a result of children’s directly imitating the violence they are exposed to through violent games or programs or by being indirectly affected by the increase in the level of emotional hostility caused by these contents decreasing the children’s capacity to empathize with others (Andersen & Dill, 2000).
The activity consists of five different colors, and there are 7 lines in each color. Your child’s daily technology usage time should be maximum 1 hour. Therefore, each line represents 1 hour of technology usage. The result becomes negative according to the usage level upwards.
During the day, after your child’s technology usage of one hour, you have to cut a line starting from white, and you will continue to cut lines every 1 hour. Your child, whose only white part is missing, is on the right track.☺
Media tokens are another effective method to track the technological device usage times of children. It is especially effective as it offers the opportunity to concretize for the small children who have difficulty understanding the concept of time. You need to create tokens for the duration of use that you determine according to your child’s age. Plastic bottle caps, ice cream sticks, small papers, or anything else you designate together will be your media token. For example, if you have set a 30-minute daily period, you will give your child 3 coins at the beginning of the day. Your child will return one token to you every 10 minutes of technology use. If s/he wants, s/he uses all the coins at the same time, or divides them into certain hours of the day. Leaving this decision to the child will provide control over the process and increase the chance of his/her collaborating with you.
Recommendations Applicable to All Age Groups
- As parents, decide how long, in what time interval and in what part of the house your child will use technological devices, and always inform your child about this media plan. When implementing this plan, be careful to be clear and consistent.
- You can use the timer while setting the time your child spends in front of the screen. Hourglass, alarm or stopwatch are effective and simple ways to control the time. In this way, you can prevent conflicts between you and the child at the end of the period.
- Children become very busy during the use of technological devices and have difficulty understanding how time passes. Therefore, they have difficulty in returning / closing the technological device at the end of the period. It is necessary to remind children so that they realize the time and adjust themselves. It will be useful to inform the child 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1 minute before the deadline.
- It should be noted that it is not technology that is harmful for children but the misuse of technology. Therefore, while determining the relationship of children with technology, their cognitive, emotional, social and physical development and needs must definitely be taken into consideration.
Some Recommended Applications
- Gartic.io-Draw Guess: Painting and drawing
- Skillz: Logic and intelligence game
- Two-Player Math Games
- Kami: Puzzle, problem solving
- Lightbot: Code Hour: Coding and puzzle
- Planet Finder: 3D planet discovery
- Da Vinci kids: Educational videos for kids
- GoNoodle-Kids Videos: Physical activity and yoga
Anderson, CA, & Dill, KE (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(4), 772.
Arslan, E., Tüm, P., Doğan, M., Dağ, H., Serdarzade, C., & Arıca, V. (2014). Computer and Internet use in childhood. İzmir Dr. Behçet Uz Children’s Hospital Journal, 4(3), 195-201.
Ateş, MA, Durmuşoğlu Saltalı, N. (2019). Investigation of parental opinions about the use of tablet and mobile phone by 5-6 year-old children living in TRNC. Gazi Journal of Educational Sciences, 5 (1), 62-90.
Blumberg, FC, & Sokol, LM (2004). Boys ‘and girls’ use of cognitive strategy when learning to play video games. The Journal of General Psychology, 131(2), 151-158.
Huston, AC, & Wright, JC (1998). Television and the informational and educational needs of children. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 557(1), 9-23.
Ritchie, D., Price, V., & Roberts, D.F. (1987). Television, reading, and reading achievement: A reappraisal. Communication Research, 14(3), 292-315.