By Mirian Touzani, Blink EdTech staff writer

Do we spend too much time glued to our digital devices? The answer is probably that we can make more a responsible use of them, and this affects both children as young people and adults.

There is a recurring debate about the role of technology in the lives of the young people. Digital tools are essential in the daily lives of the new generations (Millennials and Generation Z, the first born in the Internet era) and will continue to be in your future. The digital language is natural for them. But being a digital native is not synonymous to know how to make responsible use of technology. There is a need to strike a balance between the digital and the analogical.

Every person needs, especially at an early age, to receive different stimuli other than digital ones that activate other brain areas. It is during the first three years of a child’s life when their linguistic, emotional and social skills start to develop, a period when face to face interaction is of the utmost importance. This is when they learn about emotions and their management. In other words, technology yes, but in a balanced way.

Technology is essential in the daily lives of the new generations, and will remain so in the future

Another hotly debated topic around the use of technology by the youngest in the house is the age below which it is not desirable to expose a child to excessive digital stimuli. Directly related to the discussion mentioned above is the fact that some experts agree that, below the age of three, excessive use of digital devices can affect the social and emotional development of the child, because the brain is not ready yest to process so many stimuli quickly.

Moving into adolescence, one of the main concerns of parents is not being able to control what their children do with their electronic devices as, from a certain age, children become unwilling to share their intimacy with them. According to data collected in the 2015 Survey on Equipment and Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Households, conducted by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, 90.8% of children aged 10 use computers, 88% Internet and 29.7% have a mobile phone. On the 15 years-old segment, the numbers increase: 96.3%, 94.8% and 90.9%. This means that, on average, 95.1% of children and adolescents aged 10-15 years use the computer regularly; 93.6 have Internet access and 67% have a mobile. These figures represent an increase of 3.5% compared to 2014.

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Source: Spanish National Institute of Statistics

5 tips to educate your child in the use of technology

1 – Set boundaries for device use and demand that family time is respected

As mentioned above, technology occupies and will occupy a leading role in the life of your children, so it would be illogical and counter-productive to keep them away from it. But there are times when technology should be put down. For example, during lunch and dinner, the whole family should keep their mobile phones off the table. During other family activities, such as watching a movie together, also make sure that no one is using their smartphone.

2 – Prevent your children to go to sleep to electronic devices

Bedtime means just that, sleep. We all need rest, especially young children. By allowed them to go to bed carrying a device under their arms, you run the risk that it will get turned on as soon as you turn around and leave the room. Your child will not rest and that ultimately will affect their mood, their performance and personal development.

Digital device usage must not replace face to face interaction. It is necessary to achieve a balance between the two.

3 – Encourage cultural, sports or other outdoor activities

People socialize interacting with others. And while it is true that new communication technologies open new paths to this socialization, the digital can not replace the human, face to face contact. Encourage your child to engage in activities outside the home where he may interact with other children. If they are entertained, they will not feel the need to rush to check mobile notifications.

4 – Respect their privacy, but teach them to protect it

From certain ages, there will be things that your children will not want to share certain aspects of his private life. It is normal and does not have to be bad. They are entitled to privacy, and you respect it, but they must understand that in order to rely should be aware of what networks are and why. Do not assume that your children know how to make responsible use of technology because you think they are very mature. Be sure to provide guidance on the use of new technological tools, benefits, limits and risks.

5 – Lead by example

You’ve heard it a thousand times, but kids are sponges, especially at early ages. So if you loose your phone, tablet or computer, how do you expect that your children? We know that many parents work home with them and that in such marked by technology as time is ours is difficult to disconnect, but we ask you to find a time to turn off the screens.

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