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Should technology have an age limit? How young is too young to regularly interact with technology? The topic of children and technology is becoming more popular than ever, with little to no real answer to these questions. What some class as a problem, others regard as part of the digital revolution and an opportunity to push the next generation into the digital sphere.
If books really are slowly becoming a thing of the past then shouldn’t we embrace technology and allow children to familiarise themselves with it sooner rather than later? It has been discovered that by the time children start primary school, a large proportion of them are already confident in using a laptop, tablet or smart phone. Part of this movement is down to the ease of user interface from products such as the iPad, allowing children to become autonomous with technology. That being said it was also revealed that 47% of parents think it's important for a child to be familiar with technology before school.
However this way of thinking is not replicated across Europe. German Neuroscientist, Professor Manfred Spitzer said that giving a tablet to a small child is almost ‘a criminal act’. In his 2012 book ‘Digital Dementia’ he called for digital media to be banned from German classrooms. This view is in stark contrast contrast to the UK where 17% of children under the age of three actually own their own smart phone or tablet.
The problem arises when children begin to see technology as toys as two thirds of parents said they think their children spend too much time on their devices, and a further 31% admitted they were concerned about their children's health as a result of too much screentime.
Children enjoy engaging with technology with the baby and preschool tech market continuously growing. As a result Google launched the YouTube Kids app in February 2015, describing it as “the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind”. However some have complained that YouTube Kids mixes and matches advertising and programming in a way that “would not be permitted to be shown on broadcast and cable television”.
Whilst the market is growing, the consensus seems to be, everything in moderation. Corporations like Google must stay ahead of consumers opinions and note the sensitivity of this subject. A healthy balance means that young children are able to use such technology at an early age, developing the skills they will need in an increasingly digitalised world.
Jan Musa | Social Media & Marketing Manager
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