Don't leave kids to their own tech devices

Don't leave kids to their own tech devices

THE article, "More tech for kids can be a bad thing" (Jan 31), is a timely reminder that children with technology should be properly instructed and managed.

As any parent with a young child these days can tell you, it gets very difficult to tear a child from his digital device once he is hooked.

A few months ago, I was asked by a principal to help out in a school IT initiative, which included "tabletising" a school room. I baulked - it was an unusual reaction from a keen technology advocate.

My reaction had much to do with the negatives mentioned in the article: that technology can hinder more than help children in their learning.

An unsupervised youngster with a tablet or smartphone can go down a rabbit hole that often leads to retardation in reading and social skills, not to mention time wasted on casual games.

One study also discovered that youngsters who read online, as opposed to the printed word, tended not to retain information at first glance. They required repeated readings.

My own experience with youngsters and tablet use is that they become less willing to sit down to write. And when they do, their spelling and grammar are atrocious.

It is particularly worrying to see toddlers in prams staring at tablet screens instead of fiddling with picture books that offer big letters and also different textures.

More worrying is how less interactive the parents are when their children become tablet-nannied.

Having grown up in a different era and trained as an engineer, I always see technology as a means to an end. It is often a tool and no more.

There are "basics" children must acquire before being handed a tech device - these are reading, writing and communication.

As reported in the article, it is better to give the students a good teacher than a fancy new laptop (or tablet). I can't agree more.

Lai Tuck Chong

This article was first published on Feb 09, 2015.
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