By Joyce Oglesby
Q: “I’m confused about exposing my young toddler to digital devices. The moms’ group I’m in is divided on the issue, as well. Some of them have already provided smartphones for their preteens. Can you offer any advice about what I should do?”
Joyce: This truly is a controversial issue. But for most parents, it’s either clearly yes or adamantly no. No one can refute the idea that we live in a highly technological world. It has its benefits and its drawbacks. Kids are learning fewer oral and written communication skills, no doubt; but, by the same token, the limits of technological learning seem infinite. Smartphones bring a feeling of security to some parents and kids while cultivating a sense of fear of bullies, predators, and hucksters. I’m a firm believer in moderation in most things and abstinence in some. Striking the balance can be challenging for parents, and at times even frustrating and confusing. At the end of the day, no parent wants to look back with regrets.
As a seasoned parent, I will confess that most of us have at least a thimble full of regrets. There are many articles available for you to make a knowledgeable decision for or against the introduction of devices to children at early ages. However, parenting is as unique as the individuals involved. The best rule of thumb is, when in doubt, don’t. Make an informed decision based on your family, not everyone else’s. Establish set rules about all media usage, and don’t vacillate. I would caution never say “never” or set an unrealistic age, for example, for your child to receive his/her first device, but take into consideration your feelings and offer explanations for your decisions as the children mature. After all, you are your children’s voice of reason and the monitor of their security.
Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also watch the Just Ask Joyce Show on a local television station near you or view it here.