Is handing your child a phone, tablet or computer detrimental to their development? Are you stifling their interpersonal skills? Are you being a lazy parent?
Most likely the answer to all of these questions is no, but we understand that computers and kids can be a really tricky area for parents to navigate. While a ton of research has been done on the subject, it mostly concludes what most parents already intuitively understand:
A child’s screen time alone isn’t inherently good or bad, rather it’s what they are doing with that time that is important.
The question shouldn’t be “Are computers bad for my child?” rather “Are my kids using computers in the best way for their development?”
In her recent TED talk, children’s media expert Sara DeWitt drew a convincing parallel between our attitudes toward children and screens now and our attitudes toward children and television 50 years ago. With the advent of programming that seeks to engage children instead of just entertaining them - programs like Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street - TV became a powerful educational tool.
Similarly, DeWit is not advocating that children sit passively in front of a glowing monitor, merely being entertained by YouTube videos or watching the latest Pixar film on repeat. Instead, she recommends that parents engage with their kids about their media consumption, asking questions and having conversations about the lessons they are learning.
“Just the act of talking to kids about their media can be incredibly powerful” DeWitt remarks before sighting a Texas Tech study that showed after watching a certain show, children’s sense of empathy improved but only after having a conversation about what they learned with their parents. Watch the full talk below:
To learn more about how computers can help your child develop real-life skills check out the Hack computer, a full-stack laptop that teaches your child how to code, create and think critically about the world.