Common Questions on Kids and Gadgets Use Answered

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It's the digital age, and children have taken to gadgets like fish to water. For most parents, the introduction of gadgets into the parenting mix has brought on a whole new set of issues and concerns. Mommy Mundo rounded up some common questions on kids and gadget use and asked Michele S. Alignay, Registered Psychologist and Registered Guidance Counselor, for enlightenment. Alignay is also the co-author of Growing Up Wired: Raising Kids in the Digital Age and regularly conducts workshops on modern parenting.

Our two-year-old likes our iPad, and we let him use it. Is this okay?

"If you can delay your two-year-old's iPad use to a much later time, do so. If you are letting him use it, do so for 30 minutes only a day. I go by the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines suggestion that kids two years and below should have no screen time at all."

"Having said that, what should two-year-old kids be doing? They should be interacting, crawling, walking, manipulating objects, playing with real life toys, and engaging in interactive real life activities. The development of  critical skills at this age can be maximized through real life engagements. Too much multimedia stimulation among the young may affect how their brains are developing. The stimulation may be too much for the young brain. So if two years and below, best to defer it to a later time."

My eight-year-old daughter is bugging me to get her a cellphone. I have been resisting but her classmates already have one. What do I do?

"It is up to you if you deem your eight-year-old is ready to have a mobile phone. Identify how your child will use it. Will she have the self-discipline and a mature sense of responsibility to handle the gadget?"

"More than the gadget itself, will it be used for actual calls, SMS, or social media? If it's social media, check if your daughter is mature enough to handle the overt imperfections of the medium. Is she ready for it and capable of processing what social media has? Facebook is for ages 13 and up. I support them, as kids below this age range lack maturity to be critical media users."

"My take as a mom: I'll give my children a mobile phone later when they are ready, maybe at age 12. My son who is 10 years old uses a phone (dumb phone) for text and calls. But this is only when he is out like for basketball training. Otherwise, we do not allow him social media time yet. We let him enjoy childhood. He is only a kid once. On occasions that he refers to his classmates who have mobile phones, we refer to the values in the family. 'Yes, others have it, but in our family, we believe that it is good for you to..." He uses, if needed, the family's tablet, but still not for social media."

My teenager wants the latest model of the iPhone. I don't even use an iPhone. How do I manage this?

"Help your daughter sort out needs and wants. If she wants the latest iPhone, then maybe it's best to check where this pressure coming from. If it's from peers, then journey with her in engaging her with the family's values and financial status. When the pressure comes from within, it is best to boost her self-esteem and make her realize that her worth is not dependent on a new iPhone. If she insists, explain to her that buying such will not allow you to buy clothes, or eat out as a family, or have an allowance for a number of months. Quantify the budget allotted for the more important matters in your family so she can realize the real value of things."

At what age can I get my child a laptop of his own?

"Gadgets are not rights. They are privileges. Check if your child is mature and responsible enough to handle his own laptop. If it's needed for school, at around Grade 7 to 8, it's best to still use the family's computer or laptop. It will help you not raise a child who feels that it is his laptop and he has the right to do with it whatever he wishes. If it is required by the school, then make sure you give him guidelines of use."

 

A psychologist, guidance counselor, lecturer, author, Michele Alignay earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the the University of Santo Tomas. She obtained her M.A. in Family Psychology at the Miriam College, where she is currently completing her post-graduate dissertation for a Ph.D. degree in Family Studies. She is a lecturer for the undergraduate and graduate programs of Miriam College, a member of Mommy Mundo’s Board of Experts, and co-creator of its online campaign, MomManifesto, which won a Golden Quill Award for Communication Excellence 2015.