We often debate the pros and cons of technology use, but the truth is that media can be educational and there’s really no way to completely prevent our kids from being exposed to it. It’s important for them to learn how to interact with it safely, because odds are they’ll end up using it in school, at friends’ houses, and other places.
So we know they’ll use technology eventually—but there’s still a lot of questions to ask yourself: When should a kid get a smartphone? How young is too young for social media or too young for technology in general? Keep reading for more info that will help you make the right tech decisions for your family.
How Young Is Too Young?
When it comes down to it, at what age should our kids start to use tech? And what age is too young for technology? Of course, we as the parents can try to make the best decisions for our family, and there’s no one size that fits every family or every circumstance. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing—a phased approach works great for introducing tech a little at a time.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has some great principles to remember:
- Tech should support learning and development. When used intentionally, technology can help our kids develop skills and critical thinking abilities, so aim for these types of use.
- Do your research. As we’ve said, there’s no perfect solution that works for everyone. We should each research the benefits and risks of technology to weigh out what works best for us and our kids.
- Try to avoid screen time before age two. It’s okay to use tech with your two-and-under kids to video chat with family and friends, but that’s about as much technology as they should be exposed to.
- Preschoolers can explore. Once your child turns two, it’s okay for them to handle technology themselves in an exploratory way (with supervision, of course).
- School-age kids can use tech for learning. As your child grows, their tech use can too. When your kids are in school, they can start to use technology consistently as a learning tool.
In sum, it’s fine, and even helpful, to introduce your kids to technology a little at a time once they’re two years old or older. They’ll be better off building a healthy relationship with technology alongside you than being exposed without you there to guide them.
How Are You Using Tech?
Often we as parents wonder about “when” questions like “when should a kid get a smartphone?” But even more important than when you introduce your child to tech is how. As your child starts to dip their toes into the world of media and technology, consider these questions:
- Are you using media thoughtfully or as a crutch? Is technology the default in your home, or are you using it conscientiously as a tool for learning?
- Is it passive? Passively watching media is not productive, especially for young children. We want our kids to use media interactively to learn.
- Is it relationship-based? One of the most important aspects of your child’s technology use is whether they’re using it in conjunction with an adult. Media should never replace interaction or act as a babysitter. If you and your child are using technology to learn together, you’re doing it right.
What’s the Right Choice for Your Family?
You may hear this a lot from us at Troomi, but we’ll say it again: each child and each family is different, and you as the parents can make the right decisions for your situation. While the overall recommendation is avoiding tech before 2, you can decide what’s right for your children after that. As you make these tough decisions in your family, remember that the most important thing is how, more than when, your child uses tech. Troomi phones are designed to help your child develop safe, healthy technology habits that will serve them throughout their lives, and that’s what we want, right? If they’re using it as a tool to learn, it’s not becoming a tyrant, and it’s even helping them connect with others in their life, you’re on the right track!