There is a variety of literature on the usage of technology, and a wide range of professional opinions of how it affects children in their formative years. Given the increasing number of digital devices, most of them connected to the Internet, it certainly raises several important questions. How soon can we give a child a tablet, a cell phone or give her access to a desktop? What is a safe amount of daily online exposure for a child, or is it even safe at all?
Content: One Piece of the Puzzle
Not all parents have the time, resources or even the inclination to explore the above questions in sufficient detail. However, each parent wants the best possible outcome in the digital world for their young ones. One school of thought strictly believes that limiting usage of digital devices for developing brains is essential to maximizing their language development. But ‘optimal’ utilization is never scientifically defined. There are some parallels facing parents in the digital world compared to the heyday of early introduction of television. Perhaps the best course of action is to be observant of what is working well in the current environment and adopt healthy practices.
What We Recommend
In our experience, the most important steps parents can take to protect developing minds is to implement a firewall to limit exposure of unsavory content on the Internet. Unlike indications on TV Programs for age-appropriate material, such as G and PG, there is little or no parallel guidance on Internet content. Nonetheless, there are some free firewalls available to parents, such as K9 Web Protection, Microsoft Family Safety (it blocks websites, content and sets limits on daily usage and works for Windows platform). These leaves open the users of Mac software, tablets and others.
The most reliable method of blocking inappropriate content is to set up a firewall where the Internet access is entering the house, usually at a modem or a router. The Internet service provider, such as Telus or Shaw, may also have some tips on the matter and it would be worth asking them for help.
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