Ella with Nan's iPhone.

SHE SAID:

Baby Holly popped out into the world five months ago, the first thing she saw was the flashing of a camera courtesy of the midwife. They’re not photos I’m keen to share, by the way. In fact, they’re not photos I particularly wanted taken. But, despite not having the stomach to look at them, I also don’t have the heart to destroy them. 

My point is, technology is everywhere, so it’s hard to shield our li’l ones from it. However, I believe there’s a limit on when and how much. While we were unsuccessful in not allowing Ella TV before age two, the rule has been strictly adhered to for technology. 

Every child and every family will be different. Now at three, Princess Ella has already been exposed to her nan’s iPhone and played games and watched clips on the ABC website (she knows the web address by heart, thanks to Giggle and Hoot). But it’s been in moderation and with mum and dad assisting. 

Before they’re bamboozled with iPads and iPhones, I want our girls to learn to write their name on a piece of paper with that wooden thing called a pencil. Let’s paint a picture with “real’’ paint, not some computerised paint program that has a pop-up telling you Dora is your friend. Make music using instruments – yes, a saucepan is so an instrument. And let’s look at nature actually in the outdoors (view our post tomorrow as part of Sunday Selections). 

Technology can be fun and educational, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. My goal for my two girls is simply to aim for some balance. And somehow manage to keep Holly away from it until she turns two – but I know the chances of that are as likely as Bill Gates going broke. Then, the fun really begins. Just ask Shelly from Tropical Mum

HE SAID:

THERE is only a small number of minor issues with exposing your child to technology at a young age. One such issue became obvious when I showed Princess Ella a butterfly just resting on the screen door yesterday afternoon. The butterfly, obviously knackered by a full day of doing whatever the heck it is butterflies do, was enjoying a lovely rest and was not moving an inch. Ella looked at it closely, looked at me and look at it again. She then looked up at me and in the most innocent tones asked: “Has it run out of batteries?”
A tentative grasp on reality aside, there should be little fear when introducing your child to the wonders of modern technology. God knows, this generation of kids is going to grow up in a world dominated by it.
It’s interesting to see my good wife try and argue otherwise as we both sit here with a laptop each on our laps, connected to our wireless broadband network and iPhone within easy reach. Seriously, the sooner kids learn to deal with technology the better prepared they will be to deal with life in the 21st century.
Just cast your mind back 10 years. A decade ago, when our marriage was in its infancy, we had dial up internet, which would drop out more than it would connect, a desktop computer which took up a whole desktop and a mobile phone which did nothing but make phone calls and send text messages (how did we cope!).
Well in 2021, imagine the world Princess Ella will be living in as a 13-year-old. My guess is she won’t attend school as kids will attend virtual classrooms, she’ll have an iPad the size of a Golden Book and will be capable of texting at a rate of 233 words per second. So, why fight it?
My only hope is, that by the time Ella is actually a teenager, there’s an iPhone app I can download which gives me the names and addresses of any boy who dares look twice at her. 

**We’re keen to hear your opinion, but ask you please be respectful of others’ opinions. Heck, listen to us for starters!

 

And while you’re here, vote in our poll – that’s the thing at the side there.

 

This post was part of Day 19 of 31 Days To Build A Better Blog – write an opinion piece.

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29 Responses to He Said She Said: What age should you introduce children to technology?

  1. Caz says:

    Some very interesting views. The Dear One and I have had similar discussions. Luckily we have had heaps of paint, paper, pencils, cooking and such going on – but also a lot of ABC kids, Wii play, notebook access. It’s yet another balancing acgt. But I do agree they are going to grow up world full of teckno stuff – so I’d rather help them learn how to use it wisely. (Before the tables turn to much and they are teaching me). I don’t believe the shielding them totally. That would leave them unprepared and unbalanced (in my opinion.) Balance, Balance, Balance ….. it’s my mantra these days :O)

    • Kel says:

      It sounds like you’ve got the balace right there, Caz. It is a tricky area, but we do what we think is best for our family or kids. The Wii is pretty popular in this house too – Ella loves doing Sports Active and Fit Plus with her Dad!

      • Claire Knight says:

        Hey Kel,
        Jason & I were just wondering if you could post a vid of Julian doing the hula-hoop challenge on the wii soon!!! Look forward to reading more about the princesses. xx

  2. Elisha Squire says:

    I enjoyed this read! My eldest is 11 and my youngest 17 months… Its not an uncommon sight to see my twinnies happily perched on the laps of their elder brother and sister tapping away on a DS, or PSP… Its not something i wanted to happen but – it is the year 2011, I am sure the twinnes will have their own portable something before long… I have so far managed to keep my 11 year old off facebook, but in grade 6 “EVERYONE else is doing it mummmmmmmmm” Its a tough call – and i think what works for some families clearly wont work for another… Im all for balance ( tapping away while the twinnies are engrossed in a wiggles showdown!) !! Ha Ha.. ahh the joy!!

    • Kel says:

      I think it becomes harder when you’ve got more than one child, for sure Elisha. With Ella we had total control, but it’s not going to be quite as easy now Baby Holly has come along. I can see her sitting up on Ella’s knee playing ABC Kids games together! I don’t envy you with the whole Facebook thing. Glad we’re not at that stage yet!! LOL! 🙂

  3. Barb says:

    Interesting topic…one that has been raised in our household several times. Let me paint a little picture….my husband is a full-on techophob. Infact last night he hurled his mobile acroos the floor because he was getting frustrated with sending a text!! He doesn’t facebook, has no idea what an iPad or an iPhones does (nor does he want to learn) ….yes I’m up against it here!! But we both believe in balance. Our kids know how to play. Really play, like we used to as children. In the creek, hanging out of trees, making stuff out of nothing and knowing how to amuse ourselves….a lost artform now days with kids being glued to TV, portable devices, DS’s wii etc etc….someone please tell me the benefit of patting and feeding a dog on a screen rather than a real one????
    Our kids watch TV (ABC Kids only) and we decide what they watch as far as DVD’s go…and when they watch them. Ellie (6) knows her way around a computer better than her Daddy , but again , only supervised and for short periods as a treat (mainly because Mummy is always on FB….)
    I think the point I am trying to make (yes, I am going somewhere with this rant…) is BALANCE and PERSPECTIVE!!! One should never replace the other…..really drawing on paper with paint, as well as paint applications….nothing wrong with both, as long as they are not exclussive.

    Better get off….Ellie’s turn on the computer ….apparently!

    • Kel says:

      LOL! Sorry for laughing, but I can just picture your hubby doing that!! 🙂 That’s great your kids know how to play like that. My childhood memories are filled with making cubby houses by cutting the insides out of bushes and overgrown trees, making mud pies and racing snails (yes, that was always a rivetting game!!). I don’t remember sitting inside in front of the TV much. I like that you’ve added “perspective” alongside “balance”. I think that’s really important. Thanks Barb. 🙂

  4. Shelly says:

    Don’t know about that iPhone app to give names and addresses of boys who look at her, but they’ve already got one where you can tell precisely where she is at any given time!

    I enjoyed reading these two points of view. I think balance is the key, it is good for them to appreciate old fashioned pursuits, but be tech wise so that they are not vulnerable to the dangers of the world ‘wild’ web.

    • Kel says:

      Agree wholeheartedly, Shelly.
      Julian’s very interested to hear about the app to tell exactly where they are too. Stalking your own children, now that’s a clever idea!! LOL!

  5. C.L says:

    I dare not think of what things will be like in 2021 as I immediately feel sick if my laptop suddenly shuts down without a warning or my phone gets lost. But I do think there should be limits to kids’ exposure to technology. I’m not of the stone tablet era but I think kids need to at least learn how to count and write the old fashioned way before they’re pro internet surfers

    • Kel says:

      LOL! Funny how much we rely on our laptops and phones now. How did we ever live without them? I agree about learning to count and write the old fashioned way first. As I said, a balance is good. 🙂

  6. I don’t have children yet, but am actively trying, I really enjoyed the differing opinions and agree with both. How’s that for gray? 🙂

    Great post! Visiting from LBS.

    • Kel says:

      I wish you all the best, Jen in trying for a bub. Having children really is the greatest – although I’m sure plenty of people have told you that already! Lots of joy (and a few challenges – like deciding on the level of technology to expose them to) to come…. 🙂

  7. lorchick says:

    Both interesting viewpoints. I think I’m right in the middle of both of you. To my left is an easel, one side covered in a signed chalkboard picture which includes rainbow grass, snow, and our family in a house. The other has a painting, mostly dots. However, the 3 year old artist herself is directly in front of me, matching twins on her Mobigo while Dora gives her directions. But she can write her name (backwards, but the letters are all there) on paper and would drop that mobigo in a heartbeat if I hauled out the paint. I like to aim for a balance, for her AND for me. If I spend too much time rattling at my laptop and not enough time banging around in my craftroom or baking, I feel ‘off balance’ myself. I try to teach her that the technology makes a good tool and a fun toy… but it’s no better or more important than the other stuff. Hi from the Lady Bloggers tea party!

    • Kel says:

      Yes, I have to agree. I feel the same if I have too much technology. I need to get creative with my hands – knitting, cooking, drawing … So glad to be part of the tea party! A great concept! 🙂

  8. […] O’Brien of Three Li’l Princesses He Said She Said: Mummy blogger Kellie and daddy blogger Julian go head-to-head (with a bit of humour thrown in) on […]

  9. Hey Kel, GREAT POST GUYS! I really enjoyed reading it 🙂
    But, I must say I’m leaning more towards your Hubby’s opinion Kel 🙂
    My Ella is 3, her Dad owns an Apple based business & I’m a primary teacher…..she has her own iPad and has for the past 7 months. As a teacher, I’m already seeing what technologies are being introduced to schools & the direction they’re heading in in the near future. This generation are in a mobile/technology based environment, whether we like it or not 🙂 I love it! I love how technology can enhance learning & abilities. BUT…..it is all about BALANCE! I love crafting with Ella….just simple drawing, painting, gluing, constructing & playing 🙂 She can write her name with a pencil, draw a detailed picture & she loves to do anything that hands on & messy. But to balance it out….she also loves the flashcards, games, puzzles, handwriting {tracing} apps, songs and animated stories on her iPad. It’s done wonders for her fine motor skills, her hand/eye coordination & tracking skills 🙂

    • Oh, Claire, if only there was a “like” button on this blog; Perfectly summed up. Think I might start giving Ella lessons on the iPhone as soon as it comes back from being fixed by Mr Apple (their fault this time, not mine!). It’s been mentioned by you and others here, but you’re right, The key word is “balance”. If only had an iPad and not a Commodore 64 when I was in infant school I might be running my own business from my yacht in The Bahamas right now.

      • Kel says:

        Hmm, I hope the Apple fairy visits me before he visits Ella! LOL!! Still waiting for an iPhone and iPad!! *sigh*
        Thanks so much for sharing, Claire. You’ve really given me food for thought! 🙂

  10. Martine says:

    Great post and something that is certainly a concern for parents of kids at any age. But I think you are definately right in stating that like most parenting conundrums we find ourselves in, the answer usually lies in the word balance. We certainly dont wont our kids totally immersed in technology to the point that they are not able to write, draw or play outside in the fresh airm but at the same time it is certainly unavoidable and should also be embraced if they are to keep up with advancements. So yes, balance is the key…

    • Kel says:

      Thanks, Martine. It seems the word `balance’ is what we’re all seeking. It’s hard to know if we’re getting that balance right sometimes, but I guess we can only do our best. 🙂

  11. Ash says:

    Oh those snap happy midwives! I had the same thing, and thanks to technology they ended up being sent to my in-laws (cringe oh cringe). I can’t believe how quickly little people pick up the technology – the remotes, digital cameras, phones, computers….I just can’t stand the blank look that comes over Will’s face when he’s watching a screen! So I’m keeping them to a minimum for as long as I can.

    • Kel says:

      Oh no, Ash. You poor thing. I’d be horified if anyone got to see mine. Ugghhh!!
      And yes, hard to believe how quickly they can become skilled around technology. It frightens me sometimes. I’m sure Ella will be teaching me a thing or two on the laptop in the not too distant future. 🙂

  12. Toni says:

    You both make interesting points.

    In our household, the kids use our laptops (well, mine) and Mr9 has a blog. (for his Lego creations)
    All computers are in full view of the household so I know what they’re doing, which is playing games.
    He knows what Facebook IS but isn’t allowed to use it.

    Our kids get a mobile phone when they start working, at 14 or so. They have to pay for it themselves, and as soon as they get it, they’re responsible for their own credit.

    We want them to know how to use all this technology, but we don’t think that means they get automatic rights to do whatever they like with it.

    • Kel says:

      His own blog? Really? I’m impressed! What a great way for him to share his passion. I like that. If it’s public, we’d love to know the URL address.
      I agree with you on making them responsible for their own phone credit. I think that’s really important.

  13. My almost 3 year old toddler loves playing games on my iPhone (his favourite is iWrite Words) and he knows all his letters and numbers and has started writing letters (on paper) all from his play time with this app.

    On the flip side, he loves getting out to the park and the beach every single day and can give me a run for my money. He also kicks a ball with incredible accuracy, can hit a little ping pong ball with his plastic baseball bat and a whole host of other ball sport skills – his hand/eye/foot co-ordination is excellent.

    I grew up in a house where sport wasn’t really a focus and as an adult I have struggled to stick with something that constitutes exercise, whereas my husband loved playing sport as a child and this has continued throughout his life.
    Because of this, I have been super encouraging of my little toddler to be active often.
    And, technology is an unavoidable part of our world so I’m all for him learning how to use the devices we have around.

    So I am aiming for exposing him to a wide variety of different activities to allow him to find where his interests lie and also providing him with a good grounding in the three R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.

    • Kel says:

      Julian’s itching to get his iPhone back now, so he can check out the iWrite Words apps. Thanks for the tip.
      You sound like you have one very talented young man, who has a good grasp on a variety of things. I think that’s important.
      Funnily, I can hear myself in your words about exercise. Julian’s always been involved in sport, whereas my family weren’t the sporty type. Mind you, we were probably getting enough exercise running around the farm! Having exercise as a part of Ella’s life is pretty important to us too.
      Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. felicakes says:

    I do agree with Caz. Everything has it’s balance I guess. the Lil Tiger is 6 months and I have been reading her books from my iPad and even let her have a go at the Piano app on it as well. I still let her have tummy time on the floor with all her toys though.

    I am scared to think about 2021. She would be 11 by then. I think it’s best to teach them how to use technology properly than let them find out things the hard way or when it’s too late.

    With regards to facebook, I am of the opinion that she will not have one until she is 16 but we will see when the time comes.

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