Thursday 23 February 2017

With Christmas comes the plea for gadgets - but should kids have them?

Stella O'Malley

'When Steve Jobs was asked if his kids loved the new iPad, Jobs’ response was clear: ‘They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home’'
'When Steve Jobs was asked if his kids loved the new iPad, Jobs’ response was clear: ‘They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home’'

"Mammy," came a little voice from the back of the car, "can I have a remote control for Christmas?" A remote control? We don't have any computer games in our house (yet!), but my boy knew from visiting his friends' houses that he was missing out on something big - and that this something big definitely involved remote controls. 'Oh God,' I thought to myself, 'and so it begins'.

I'm not alone - whether it is a 'remote control' or an iPad, as we count down the sleeps to Christmas many parents are agonising about allowing more technology into their homes. Depending on the age of our children, parents fret about whether we should allow children to get a smartphone, or whether the arrival of PS4 into the house will diminish fights or increase them. Many parents don't really want more technology but not many of us are willing to make a social outcast out of our kids.

A recent study by Early Childhood Ireland found that 66pc of Irish parents believe that it is OK for young children to use technology freely. These parents argue that technology is educative, creative and progressive. And it can be - just like the demon drink, technology is a good servant but a bad master. Whooping with pride because your two-year-old can access Postman Pat all by himself on YouTube isn't particularly opening the doors of knowledge for your child. It's not very hard to find a programme on YouTube and it doesn't suggest that your child is a mini Steve Jobs - in fact, it probably suggests that you need to be more involved in your child's life.

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