It is not easy to help parents manage the relationship between technological devices and digital natives. Experts agree that it is not the tools that are harmful in themselves, but the use made of them. Here’s how they suggest to behave
American pediatricians say no to tablets and smartphones before the age of 18 and from 18 to 24 months, if you really want to bring them closer to digital devices, moms and dads need to carefully choose videos and apps and be there while their kids use them. Whether they are small or large, smartphones, PCs and tablets should not be taken as babysitters.
On the other hand, experts are increasingly observing the potential of these new tools. In research conducted with the Developmental Neurocognition Laboratory at the University of London, researcher Annette Karmiloff-Smith argues that children learn faster using a Tablet rather than a book. The ability to interact with one screentherefore, it would stimulate cognitive development by promoting learning.
So what is the correct approach to use in this field? Precisely this was discussed at the presentation event of the new Sky Kids app.
In this article
Although television is always the main source of entertainment for children, with 97% of children between 4 and 14 who followed the programming in 2016, dedicating an average of 208 minutes a day (source: Sole 24 Ore), the new technological devices such as pc, smartphone and Tablet, are rapidly changing their tastes and the way they enjoy content.
According to the study of the Center for Child Health “Digital technologies and children. Indications for conscious use”, 38% of children under 2 have already used a mobile device to play or watch a video; up to 8 years, 63% of children use i device of parents, while at 8 the percentage rises to 72%. And the favorite contents are above all i video games.
What the experts say
“For some time the media have been considered to be a poison: parents are wondering how long it is correct to let their children use them – underlined Massimo Scaglioni, Professor of Media History and Economics, Catholic University – Ce.RTA -. But the question of quantity is perhaps somewhat outdated, because the terms of this survey are more complex: there are in fact differences concerning the age and others that are based on the different types of average“.
In identifying these differences, studies on neuroscience. “In recent years, great strides have been made in the study of the brain, discovering important educational and evolutionary details – he explained Alberto Pellai, doctor, researcher at the University of Milan, developmental psychotherapist -. Our mind is made up of three levels: on the “ground floor” we have the survival functions, which the brain generally manages automatically; then there is the “foreground”, which is that of emotions; and then there is the “second level” which is the cognitive one where meanings are organized and constructed ». And our mind works best when there emotional part is that cognitive come into contact.
Obviously, the mind evolves over time, also depending on the stimuli we are able to give it. This is why «it is very important that the contents are proposed according to the “phase-specificity” criterion, that is, giving the right stimulus at the right age. If we give too unbalanced cognitive or emotional stimuli, in fact, the child will detach himself because he does not have the possibility to understand them, and therefore boredom or disorientation will take over ».
Help for parents
“The important point – Massimo Scaglioni highlighted – is to understand that, today, the media are living environments that interpenetrate and refer to each other: TV leads to the internet that leads to social media in a convergence that permeates our reality”. And i digital natives they have been part of this environment since they are very young.
“From this point of view, the question we must ask ourselves is no longer how long it is right for our son to be in front of the TV, but what is the correct way to let him experience these new digital environments”.
Fundamental in this sense, even before the school where there is a strong delay in the adoption of digital technologies, is the role of parents. Because it is at home that the little ones interact the most with these tools, and often they do it alone. “Parents seem to be unprepared for this situation and it is no coincidence that there is a great demand for information”.
But in addition to informing themselves, parents should also be able to count on tools already designed and created specifically to meet the needs of children. “A kind of equipped and safe digital playground to which mothers and fathers can entrust their children “.
This is also to avoid that we go towards an increasingly fragmented use of contents. «Various researches – continued Alberto Pellai – underline that multi-screen viewing has negative influences on the learning of children and that the situation worsens as the time devoted to watching videos increases. The longer you stand in front of the screen, the less you develop the ability to concentrate which is instead necessary for the development of skills, such as mathematical and logical-operational ones. In theory, every 30 minutes of television, children should spend 2 hours immersed in activities that provide them with opportunities for interaction with parents or other children ».
How to behave
From these assumptions we can say that for children the ideal is «An experience in which the proposal is fun, interactive, educational, innovative and brilliant. And parents must encourage it in a conscious way ». It may therefore be useful to follow these indications:
- Limit the time you watch content on the screen: TVs don’t turn off by themselves, so we have to.
- Choose the contents preferring those “edutainment“.
- Sharing the fruition and watching mediated programs and screen experiences with children to guide and support them.
- Define the moments and places of the vision, providing “screen free” areas within the day (for example, homework time).
- Select quality content, guaranteed for the child’s age group.