SpringHeights International School

We are at a point in human history to understand that technology advancement has gotten to a point where we believe there are endless possibilities. All around the world, new gadgets are being developed and new ways of using certain technologies are being explored in health, finance, sports, and in any form one can think of. 

As much as there are some negative effects to the use of technology on both adults and children, we can not deny how critical their use has become for us. The main focus of this article is to look at the use of technology for children, especially in a developing country like Ghana and many across the African continent. So as we all know children are people below the age of 18 according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. 

Generally, most people today will agree that technology has become an integral part of our daily lives and it can be seen in almost everything we do. First of all, we should not think of technology as something which is remote.

Scientists have come to realise that the brain of a human is not fully developed until the age between 18 years – 24 years old. This should make us understand that before that period of one’s life a lot of attention must be paid to what children are exposed to.

When Should the child be exposed to gadgets?

A research by the American Pediatric Association (APA) suggests that children below the age 18 months should not be exposed to any form of digital technology like phones, screen devices like computers and televisions. But from 18 months to 2 years exposure to gadgets for 30 minutes or less is ideal and the time can be increased to 1 hour or less when they are 2 years to 5 years old in a day.   

“Typically after 2 years olds. It is not recommended for under 2’s. We have had a lot of experience especially during the pandemic where children could not attend schools. So there is a lot of innovation around that. With regard to things like video-calling, we realised that it was better for older children than the younger children. Especially children who don’t have a longer attention span and after a few minutes they are confused and they can’t really understand what someone on the screen is saying”. 

  • Dr. Naomi Adjepong (Director of Operations Alpha Beta Education Centers) in an interview on Citi Fm April, 2022.

Spending 1-2 hours a day on digital devices is not bad for a child from the age of 6 years to 12 years. Yet all of this ought to be regulated by the parent at all times. The danger of children starting with one activity on devices and ending up where they are not supposed to be is very high when they are not monitored. 

Importantly, the engagements children have must be educational and instructive. Yes, searching for entertainment online or on devices could lead to severe antisocial behaviour in children and they are very likely to grow up with it.  

At 18 years and above when children have reached adulthood, they must be given enough liberty yet they must be guided on how they must be responsible online and in their use of technology. They have all the rights at their age, yet they need to understand that these rights come with responsibility. 

At School.

The school is one of the best places to introduce technology in education. For example, there are a lot of educational materials on YouTube that explain topics and subjects better  in many instances. Projectors can be used for the use of all the children in large numbers. 

At the computer laboratory, there are restrictions that can be enabled on computers to streamline the use of the internet and the content children can access. In schools where there are no computer laboratories and where parents can afford some gadgets, it will not be a bad idea to have the children come to school with their devices on the days they have Information Communication Technology (ICT). 

Most gadgets come with parental controls and these can be enabled to monitor the usage of these devices. There may be issues as to whether it is safe to give devices to children, considering what they may do with it, but there are some huge positives to it. 

Parents and Guardians

It is easy for parents to give their phones to their children to stop them from crying or disturbing them but it is important to always monitor what the children are using this device for. Parents must be actively involved in their children’s education like participating in the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) and putting forward items that will promote the use of digital means to teach children and enhance their learning. 

The talk of exposure to digital technologies can only be achieved through setting examples because children swiftly pick from social learning or vicarious learning rather than by giving instructions. Children pick easily what they see others do rather than what they are instructed to do. So, parents and guardians and even teachers have set examples when they are around children.  

“Using technology with them, the use of technology by them, and the use of technology for them” 

  • Mrs. Nerquaye-Tetteh (Secretary General for the Ghana Commission to UNESCO) April, 2022.

At all times, parents and guardians must keep an eye on their children when they are using digital technology. And when parents are not around, they must ensure that they have put in place structures to guide the use of technology. 

The worrisome part of the media children are exposed to is that, content producers may state that this is safe for 6 year olds and younger, but then there are some things in them which are not appropriate for the children. Parents must go the extra way to review contents before they allow children to have access to them.

In conclusion, let us not deny children access to advanced learning possibilities and enhance their development. We must always be there for them and see to it that they are given all the opportunities available to them in a well defined and structured environment for their own good and to see the maximum effect of what is being invested in the young ones.

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