As soon as children can grasp things in their hands, they are reaching for your electronics. One important piece of electronics that your child will reach for is your smartphone, partly because he or she sees that you are using it and children often want what others have. At a young age, he or she will like to grab your phone and press buttons, dial random numbers, and scroll around on your home screen, but just because they are engaging with the phone, doesn’t mean that they’re ready for quality time with your smartphone.
Typically, until children are pre-school aged, they don’t need to use your smartphone. Once they are pre-school aged, however, you may want to consider introducing them to your device. Children who are under two years old learn better from real-world experiences, while children who are 3 years old or older can learn by watching videos on your smartphone or tablet.
As your children get older, they’ll most likely want a smartphone or tablet of their own. Whether or not you get your child one, is a matter of parental choice- some children will be ready for their own smartphone at age 11, while others may not be ready until they’re 13 or older. This also depends on the individual child.
Experts recommend that parents be a large part of their child’s smartphone use. They recommend allowing the child to use electronic devices in family settings, such as the living room, but avoid setting up computers and other devices in the child’s bedroom. The goal here is balanced exposure. Not only should children be monitored while using smart devices, children also get more out of the experience if their parent or guardian is involved. Engaging with the child by asking them questions about what they’re watching on your phone, and talking to them about what’s going on will help increase your child’s comprehension.
Although child-and-parent smartphone use is good for learning, so is reading traditional books together and playing outside. If your child doesn’t enjoy reading or going outside, however, try to find some fun and educational smartphone apps that you can use together. There are tons of great educational apps for kids (and adults). As an additional bonus, most of the apps are free to download and use, and can be used over and over again. With these apps, chances are that you’ll get tired of them long before your child does!