In a typical household, we see an 11-year old with a tablet in one hand and a cell phone in the other. While he’s downloading the latest app on his Tablet, he’s also texting his best friend about his newest Tablet. His 3-year old little brother is sitting in front of his iPad watching his favorite cartoon while listening to his fave tunes on his iPod. Mom is in the other room on her laptop surfing the internet with one ear cocked on the frying pan making sure her food wasn’t going to burn. Sounds farfetched? Believe it or not, this is what you’ll probably find in most typical households – the new digital household where having at least a dozen electronic devices is the norm.
In this latest day and age, electronic devices such as computers, MP3 players, and video game consoles can be seen in almost every house in the United States. We rely on them for entertainment, for information, and for our businesses. Without any kind of electronic gadget, our lives will probably be a bit harder, sort of like being stuck in the Dark Ages. But are we relying too much of the digital world nowadays? With big name brands in the digital entertainment industry as well as movie companies, tv stations, etc. competing to get the most audience, we’re kind of at their mercy, so to speak. Without any kind of digital device, we don’t glean helpful info that we may need one day. Then again, what did we do before the first computer ever came to public use? Well, there were the radio, television, and telephone so in essence we started pretty early being weaned into the future of electronic dependence.
Now I, myself didn’t really jump on the electronic bandwagon until a few years ago. I was pretty satisfied with my non “smart” phone and my basic DVD player. But as my husband and I realized not too long ago – we were sort of stuck in the dark ages ourselves. Many of our friends had the latest smartphones, the latest Bluray DVD player, the latest MP3 player and even their children had the latest iPads and handheld video game consoles. However, to note, we were the first among our friends and relatives to have a Digital Video Recorder, but mainly because our cable company sold us on how great the device was – and believe it or not, it’s one of the best electronic device I have ever owned. And then when we had our son, we realized that watching our friends and relatives kids playing on their Nintendo DS and iPod, it made us wonder if we’ll end up buying those for our son. Well, as my husband and I ourselves just stepped into the digital world so to speak, we finally decided that a new Wii system wouldn’t hurt. Or would it?
Although I’ve been playing video games since I was in junior high, mostly because my sister worked for the computer industry, I didn’t realize then as I do now, that video game playing is a very addictive sport. I remember reading articles on the addiction of video game playing and how kids as young as 8-years old were so addicted that they didn’t want to do anything else. Pretty scary but I can certainly see the attraction of those insane driving games or treasure-seeking games. They ultimately make you want to earn more points so that you can gain more characters or cars or whatever it is that the particular game is trying to entice you with. Those darn video game designers sure are smart. And some will argue that playing video games may be good for kids in the aspect of hand and eye coordination and problem solving. Then again, those people arguing about those facts are mostly people involved in the video game industry. I can understand if your child is learning while he’s playing even though he’s dazed at the screen. What young child doesn’t like something flashy, with a lot of noise, and characters in the game that they can relate to?
But are our children getting too addicted and involved in the latest technology? And is it even necessary? And at what age is a good age to introduce them to the digital world? I personally don’t think young children should use technology too early – they’re barely learning about normal every day stuff and having them get on the internet or reading a book from a tablet is just too much. Young children should learn about things the natural way, like feeling them with their hands, thinking with their own brains instead of what the computer tells them to do, and playing outside where they can learn about nature. Yes, technology can help enhance learning skills but I think kids should start with the basics first. Of course, as I’m writing this now, probably in a few years from now, every 3-year old will probably have his or her own laptop in their rooms. Technology is fun, but as most parents will agree, it can also spell trouble.
My son’s cousins, some who are a bit older than him had handheld video game consoles when they were really young. I asked my brother and sisters why start them so young and they said because all of their kids friends had them and it just wasn’t “cool” if they didn’t have it as well. But ofcourse as they learned throughout the years that the heavy electronic usage was becoming a hindrance and the kids were just becoming too dependent on them. I also have friends who have kids as young as 2-years old hooked on a laptop or handheld video game console – imagine how they will be when they’re older! And my friends had no qualms about buying them right off the bat. But I can’t really judge or blame some of these parents. Afterall, the digital era is prominent upon us and we really do depend on it. Practically every business out there need it and we rely on certain digital devices to get us through the day. However once again, I stress on the necessity of a little kid getting his first laptop when he’s 3-years old. Are the parents trying to raise a prodigy or are they just hoping their child will play by him/herself for an hour or so while mommy or daddy takes a break? Why not just put some blocks in front of the kid or give him/her some paint and paper and see what develops from that? Or is that too outdated?
Whatever the reasons why children begin depending on the digital world, we as parents have to really stop and think. Is that a start of something great and powerful? Or are we not allowing our children to grow up the old-fashioned way, and that is to hold a paperbound book in their hands instead of an e-reader, paint with their paintbrush instead of the stylus, and watch a movie on the couch with his/her parents instead of in his/her own room on a laptop? I’m sure the digital world will continue and blossom, but where do we draw the line on a good age to start?