As with everything, internet technology has its advantages and disadvantages.
Have you, as a parent, weighed up the pros and cons before providing your child with a smartphone or a tablet? Have you engaged in conversation with your child highlighting e-communication etiquette? Do you know what your child is texting? Are you aware of cyberbullying and the harmful, emotional effects it has on the victim – and sometimes on the perpetrator too?
It’s important for children to be smartphone and tablet savvy because-
- being in contact with family and friends increases a child’s social skills,
- many free educational programmes are available online,
- there is immediate access to information,
- of the availability of current news items,
- there is instant contact to help in a crisis situation.
Experts, however, are of the opinion that the time to consider getting your child a smartphone is when he/she is in Grade 8. This, of course, depends on your child’s maturity – and whether you have imprinted the reason you are giving your child access to e-communication and explained the harmful effects it can have. Your child’s social awareness and understanding of technology are important factors.
Some of the disadvantages of this newfound independence include-
- Cyberbullying which means humiliating another by sharing harmful, false, or unkind content which can cause traumatic, emotional suffering.
- Sexting is sending sexual text messages which often contain nude or semi-nude photos and explicit videos of yourself. Remember this information can be easily ‘leaked’ causing the sender great embarrassment and a ruined reputation. This link highlights sexting acronyms every parent needs to know.
- Excessive distraction can interfere with important activities such as personal socialising (interacting with friends and family, learning to obey rules, sharing chores, and being taught how to behave in public places), exercise and reading.
- Increased addiction to electronic devices which, as with all addictions, is destructive.
No one said parenting was easy – but parenting correctly has enormous rewards. Remember we, at Capulum College, have vast experience in children’s behaviour and we are readily available to help you help your child. We cannot stress enough the value of reading. Read to your children, and with your children, and ensure there is ‘reading time’ before bed. Reading has a profound effect on children’s grammar, sentence construction and vocabulary. It is imperative for brain development.
We suggest limiting the time your child spends on the smartphone, particularly for an hour before bedtime – and removing the device from the bedroom overnight. Cell phones should be put away during homework time and you should introduce cell-phone free intervals, including meals times.
The following link provides important information: https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2018/10/children-and-cell-phones