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5 Myths About Technology and Parenting

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As if parenting is not difficult enough, we now live in a world where our 2 year old children know more about technology we do. Let's face it. Technology has dramatically changed the manner in which we are able to parent. Let's take a look at some of the parenting fears we have classified as "Technology Myths."

Myth #1
If my child uses the computer every day, he/she will become addicted.
It is very true that children often feel magnetized to the computer, especially if they are playing a challenging game. Parents who structure time for their child to use the computer and use it wisely have found great benefits. Laying out a two hour schedule for computer use can aid in enhancing the child's sense of self-discipline. It is also recommended that parents continue to encourage outdoor play and activities. Good parenting with appropriate supervision will combat technology abuse.

Myth #2
If my child goes on the computer he/she will be cyber-bullied or get in trouble in a chat room.
Cyber-bullying is a growing concern, but then bullying at school is also a growing concern. There is always a chance that your child could encounter a bully on the computer, but with parental supervision and some safety tips for children this can be minimized or even eliminated. Parents should not let their child have a computer in their bed room or in a room where the child is alone with the computer. Have the computer in a location where the family has a tendency to congregate. Parents should have conversations with their children about all bullying, not just cyber-bullying. Most rules will apply to both. Also use the various parental controls on most computers to lock down the computer so your child can only get on sites with which you approve.

Myth #3
My child is too young to be on a computer.
Only a few years ago, it may have seemed absurd to be discussing computer use for two and three year-old children. Today it is a different story. Because the use of computers has flourished in our environment, and because of the natural curiosity and experimental risk-taking ability of our young children, computers are now a staple in our preschools and schools alike. Thus, at a young age they are really exposed and well-oriented on how computers operate.

"Research suggests that 3 and 4-year old children exposed to computer activities that reinforce major educational objectives have greater developmental gains than children not exposed. These gains occurred in areas, such as intelligence, nonverbal skills, structural knowledge, long-term memory, manual dexterity, verbal skills, problem solving, abstraction and conceptual skills" (Clearinghouse on Early Ed.).

Parents should take part in training children on how to use the computer responsibly by providing educational sites that can develop their scholastic ability and creativity. Many of these sites have great educational value like www.pbskids.org and www.starfall.com. When children are able to use the computer at this age, expect that they will have a higher sense of self-concept, exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate cooperation and open communication, and a more positive attitude towards learning (Haugland,2011).

Myth #4
There is no educational value in my child playing video games.
There is a wealth of educational video games on the Internet. This playful learning experience is steeped in positive research stating that there can be great educational benefits. Playing computer games is now considered a part of modern childhood, according to an article written by Cheryl Olson entitled 8 Reasons Video Games Can Improve Your Child. She further noted that computer games are effective tools to assist children in enriching certain practical abilities as long as parents know how to choose the educational games for the child.

Myth #5
If my child uses the computer, he/she will not develop social skills.
Face to face time with peers is always important. However, there is no reason why our children cannot have face-to-face interaction with peers all around the world. Sites such as Skype and www.epals.com can let children interact with other children. Just imagine the social skills one can develop when having a discussion with another child from another social culture. The global connection is a form of social interaction which strongly contradicts what most parents think about peer interaction and technology. This connection with people is in fact, a great source of information.

Just remember:
• Make sure your family has a computer-use plan.
• Talk to your children about issues like cyber-bullying.
• Supervise online activities.
• Become better educated about the many technologies your children are using.

Sources:
Haugland, S. 2000, Computers and young children. University of Illinois: ERIC Digest.
http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/25/dealing-with-cyberbullying-5-essential-parenting-tips/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/132325-what-are-benefits-computers-younger-children/#ixzz20a74vpV9
http://www.yourlittleprofessor.com/fixations.html
http://www.themagicsunglasses.com/childrens-news/parenting/are-tv-computer-games-and-social-websites-preventing-our-children-discovering-the-joy-of-reading/
http://www.bluekids.org/parentsandcaregivers/pap_computeruse.asp
http://www.furmanr.com/parent-academy