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My new research shows this technology can be used for effective development

 Approximately 80 per cent of one year olds are using technology regularly, with iPads and tablets increasingly becoming the birthday and Christmas gift of choice for children of this age.

My findings show that internet use among children is largely being accessed independently, with 75 per cent of four year olds now owning and regularly using their own technological device. It also showed that children as young as three are even using voice command to search the internet.

If managed responsibly by parents and carers, early technology use gives children new learning experiences that they can’t readily get from traditional play and toys.

I found that many parents are unsure about the possible negative effects technology use is having on children’s development, but there has been very little research to guide them.

We’re living in a technological age where most of what we do is done on some form of technology or device. More and more we are seeing very young children using technology, particularly mobile technology, which has been a big game changer. It is a personalised ‘box of entertainment’ that fits nicely in small hands, and can be used, anywhere, anytime.

The ‘addiction’ that people too often refer to between child and their device, is actually ‘passion’.

When a child encounters something new and interesting, they’ll naturally work much like a scientist to explore it – trialling a range of strategies, ideas, and problem solving.

Devices and apps are designed so that there are never-ending avenues to explore and master. It is a virtual playground for children, and it is an interaction which we should be actively encouraging.

Ahead of the Christmas gifting season, this is what parents need to know and do when it comes to children and technology use:

  1. Look for apps that allow a child to be creative and pre-load them onto the device before placing the gift under the tree.
  2. When purchasing apps throughout the year, keep in mind the range of apps the child already has, and help to introduce new interests to ensure activity on the device has a strong creative element.
  3. Parents should spend time engaging with their children when they’re using devices. An effective way of doing this is loading apps that can be played and enjoyed together.
  4. Talk with the child about what they are doing on their device. This helps to build relationships, and helps parents to know what their child is doing on their device which will help alleviate any concerns.
  5. Be selective of the type of technology children are using. Some devices and apps are passive, while some are empowering and creative.
  6. Ensure settings are checked so that it filters content for young children.