Image | Bondesgaarde
Children are beginning to use mobile devices — like smartphones, tablets and laptops — at increasingly young ages. Many parents and teachers assume children have a natural ability to use these devices, but this doesn’t mean they use them responsibly. It’s better if they have an adult around to show them the ropes.
For this reason, the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, a pioneer in creating information technology for the health sector and patient care, presented a report with detailed guidelines for proper use of technology for children and adolescents. The main objective of this study is to provide parents and educators with a comprehensive guide on how to guide and assist minors in the use of digital technologies.
The authors state that, “Responsible, educational and supervised use of new technologies by children and adolescents can be very beneficial for their development and for acquiring basic skills”.
The study shows that the use of new technologies has become widespread among minors. Over 40% of children under two years have regular access to tablets or smartphones, a percentage that rises to 72% among children under eight years and 90% among those older than ten. Genís Roca, coordinator of the study says “I can not imagine my children doing any job that does not involve the use of technology, that’s why I want them to be familiar with these technologies — because they are keys to their future”.
Parents, setting an example
The authors of the report have developed a set of best practices for the use of digital technologies, among which the following stand out:
- Placing devices in common areas
- Regulating time spent using the devices
- Teaching children how to treat others in social networks
- Assisting them in choosing games and applications
- Being alert to signs of addiction
Roca notes that the most important thing is that parents set an example. “It’s very easy to be absorbed in Whatsapp during dinner and then scold your child for playing video games too much.” Indeed, Spain is the country with the highest use of Whatsapp in Europe, and 76% of children aged between 11 and 14 use it regularly. For this reason, the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital has developed guidelines for the most responsible way to use this app to prevent misuse or addiction. Some tips with more detail can be found following this link.
The report also reviews the different types of cyberbullying that children and adolescents can experience, and advises parents that the best way to prevent them is to teach their children to navigate safely and make them aware that, once information is shared, they lose control over it.
They key is to create guidelines to help kids make the most of new technologies and, above all, benefit from their use.