The Covid19 pandemic necessitated that we rethink so much about the way we live, socialise and importantly, the way we interact with technology.

Working parents have adapted to remote workplaces and school-going children have quickly adapted to distant learning and virtual classrooms that are set up at their dining tables.

Recent conversations led me to question the use of technology for those in-between. What role does technology play in the lives of stay-at-home children under the age of 5years?

Is technology being harnessed as a tool or another time-pass?

Parenting today, particularly for millennials, requires a vastly different approach to previous generations. Much of our lives have been digitised from the way we set alarms, check the weather to consuming news globally in an instant. Inherent to parenting today, is an information overload and keeping up with the pace of technological innovation.

There are whole corners of the internet and social media dedicated to fanatical beliefs about how you should parent your child in the digital age. On any given day, the optimal amount of screen time is always in question.

There are sects of TikTok dedicated to opinions on feeding your baby/toddler/preschooler, schooling systems/homeschooling or unschooling. The list is exhaustive and there is more conflicting advice today that anyone can manage. Therefore, decision fatigue – a term coined by millennials – plagues our lives.

Of course, it is only natural that each generation shifts their perspective, evolves and raises children to a certain degree in reaction to the manner in which they were raised. But this generation is experiencing so many things that previous generations didn’t have to deal with and it is certainly shaping our parenting experience.

In my opinion, most parents today have tech-guilt, which I consider a sense of shame for the amount of technology usage in their household because we haven’t fully embraced using technology as a tool for raising digital citizens.

Technology provides use and benefit to everyone as long as it is used in mindful and measured doses, bearing in mind the potential problems which may arise relating to vision, posture, and other physical and social developmental concerns.

The work and commitment to managing technology as a tool in our life is undeniable. Truthfully, I have a schedule dedicated to it as one would an excel spreadsheet for managing a budget.

Here are a few ways you can use technology as a tool, that may provide benefit to your child and household:

  • Allow more screen time for positive educational activities such as; Bimi Boo educational games designed for kids 2-5years (available on Apple & Android devices)
  • Encourage breaks from TV watching that include hands-on activities such as; painting and molding play dough, which in itself is a masterclass in cognitive development.
  • Use streaming platforms to your advantage. Documentaries are a window to our planet, with a plethora of genres and options such as; Our Planet narrated by David Attenborough on Netflix

For many, parenting can be isolating and finding support within a virtual village is not only valuable but highly recommended.

Here are a few ways that parenst can use technology as a tool:

  • Schedule virtual storytime sessions with loved ones via FaceTime or Zoom that ease your load and free up some time. Children today benefit from being able to see their loved ones despite any distance between them.
  • Access free printable resources that are widely available on the internet for children’s activities at home.
  • Identify kids dance or yoga channels such as Cosmic Kids Yoga which foster positive habits around movement and technology.

Technology can be a powerful ally in children’s development when used thoughtfully and that starts with having a long-term plan for what you’d like their future to look like.

Quick access to information, skills development, creativity and digital literacy are just a few well-known benefits technology offers. By embracing technology as a tool for learning and growth parents and teachers alike can prepare children for a future that demands technological literacy and adaptability.

Finding a balance that is specific to your circumstance and environment between screen time (all sorts) and other activities will maximise the positive impact of technology in our lives.

Personally and proudly, my three-year-old has great value for storytelling, which I’ve worked consciously to cultivate by using streaming platforms such as Apple TV, Netflix and Disney, which are balanced out with regular visits to our local library since she was a year old. Yes, my tech savvy toddler also has a library card.

In conclusion, technology has transformed our lives over the past few decades. Its impressive evolution has contributed to many living a life of greater connection, convenience, and luxury. As parents, it is our responsibility to harness its power for the next generation to evolve with it. As a tool, not a timepass.