Here’s how to manage your little one’s tech use, from Meg Faure, co-author of the Baby Sense series, and content partner for the inaugural The Baby Show & #MeetUp sponsored by Pampers, taking place at Kyalami this September.

 

Modern parenting involves challenges that past generations could not see coming and tech is one of those. Most parents grapple with the conflicting advice around tech use – ranging from horror stories about what tech is doing to this generation, to those who say that children must embrace tech early to ensure they are ready for the jobs of the future.

 

As with most areas of parenting, there is science that can lead us to make sense of this question. These three lessons help guide us to manage tech with our tots:

 

  1. There is a critical period of brain growth from zero to three years old (1000 days) that can not be ignored. This means that while we don’t want to alarmist, we do need to acknowledge that there is a responsibility as parents during this period, when it comes to our child’s development.
  2. The brain wires based on the experiences it has – and critically there are two essential components for brain wiring in this 1000 day period – firstly sensory experiences must be rich and varied. Your baby learns from sensory stimulation. Secondly relationship experiences wire the brain for future engagement and relationships. Babies need love and engagement with people.
  3. The problem with all technology is that it is sensory-vacant – only the visual and possibly the auditory senses are targeted and the critical kinaesthetic and movement input needed for learning and development are void. The second issue is that tech involves a paucity of human engagement. So the two critical elements of brain wiring are absent.

 

These facts do change as the child gets older and tech for older children, within parameters, can be a good thing. But for young toddlers it is a case of the less the better.

 

The question is practically, how do we get this right?

 

These are ideas to make the change from an overreliance on tech to a healthy relationship with tablets and TV:

 

  • Embark on a one-week tech detox for your little one today. Go cold turkey just for one week. Use other distraction methods, like a walk in a carrier, playing on the grass and reading a book together.
  • Stop all tech use at 5pm, for all kids under 10 years old. In the interest of sleep, this should be a rule of thumb for us all for 2 hours before bed.
  • Eat mealtimes together so you do not have to rely on TV or tablets to distract your toddler to eat. Family mealtimes can start from a year of age.
  • Schedule 10 minutes of TV viewing per day, for your child over 2 years of age. Make the time to sit with him or her and talk about the content – this is a wonderful way to bring in learning and personal engagement and negates a lot of the pitfalls of tech.

 

Catch Meg at The Baby Show & #MeetUp sponsored by Pampers on September 28 – 30 at Kyalami International Convention Centre.

 

Since 2001 Faure has created and hosted the premium parenting brand The Baby Sense Seminars. In 2017 she launched a TedEX-style seminar series, aptly named #MeetUp which includes Pregnancy Sense, Baby Sense, Parent Sense and Sleep Sense. All series will be integrated into The Baby Show & #MeetUp sponsored by Pampers. For more information visit babyshow.co.za

 

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