Should babies use technology?

Until you are with a baby, you wouldn’t even think about how aware they are of technology from a very young age. Babies can engage with technology long before they can walk and talk . Is it because it is shiny? Maybe , but they are also very motivated to find out what technology is about. Should they be allowed? Yes. How much? Not a lot. Devices are connected to the internet and mobile carriers. They put out a certain amount of radiation and screens can be backlit which strains eyes. You cannot stop a baby from learning about its environment. As with everything else, there has to be adult supervision and guidance and a range of activities to help develop a little being. Babies born now are surrounded by technology. The best thing you can do as an adult it help them to learn safely.

I have spent a lot of time with my little grandson who turned one in August. From about 7 months he was desperate to know what mobile phones and iPads were about and what they could do. He could distinguish between all the notification sounds. He knew what you were supposed to do. He could mimic swiping and gesturing. With me he had clear rules. First one was phones and tablets don’t go on the floor. They are very special and you have to be gentle. Second rule was he could have 3 minutes on my phone and 5 minutes on my iPad. The rest of the time there were so many other things we could be doing which didn’t involve technology.

I was trying to show him how to press on an icon one day. He could swipe but not press. He understood because he picked my finger up and used that to press on the icon because he knew he couldn’t do it. I showed him how menus work so he started to look for menus and see if he could open them. I downloaded a paint program and he loved being able to draw lines on the screen.  I showed him games and he liked the animals in farm games, realised you could swipe for match 3 games and tried to bang bubbles in a falling bubbles game. Most of all ,though, he has liked exploring by himself. He learned quickly that his hands mustn’t be on the screen when I put in the passcode. He knows nothing will happen until I put in the passcode. He wanted to know how things got into the iPad and examined it from all angles trying to work out how it made a screen work. He worked out the case will shut the screen off and if he opens the case it is there again. I have downloaded him learning apps. One has a cat which he loves because he loves his own pet cat. That one teaches colours in all sorts of ways. He understands what the paintbrush does. The other one he likes has a monster and you pat his tummy and he breathes and comes up with ideas.  So, from around 7 months, this little boy has wanted to learn about technology. Not with me or his parents does he do it unsupervised  or for very long. We have made video calls to someone he knows and the first time baffled him but now he knows that the person on the screen is someone he can see in real life and he loves video calls. He tries to be a part of them.

Babies can learn all sorts of things and they should. Sensible use comes from being shown how to use something sensibly and no, phones and tablets are not for in your mouth!

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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