Parenting Young Children in a Digital World

Which one do you want daddy?

Digital technology in the home is a must for many of us since online schooling, even for kindergarten, has become common. Our family literacy programs (for ages 0-6) and those of other organizations, such as libraries, have also been forced online. So it’s understandable that children are being exposed to technology at an earlier age.

We do need to know how to use technology in today’s world—but we also need to remember it is just one “tool in the toolbox;” it’s not everything, and it’s not even the most important thing.

We know through research on brain development that learning happens in relationships through one-on-one interaction. We also know it’s not realistic for most families to totally remove technology from our homes. But what we can do is be mindful about how and when we use it by remembering this acronym: ORIM.

What does ORIM stand for?

Opportunity
Recognition
Interaction
Modelling

  • Is there an Opportunity to turn this into a learning experience? Learning takes place through interaction: talking, singing, rhymes, stories, and positive feedback.
  • Is there a way to Recognize and value your child and their efforts? This builds confidence and self-esteem. Is there a way to recognize when your child has made progress?
  • Does this activity have room for Interaction? Brain development takes place through “serve and return”—healthy back-and-forth communication.
  • Children absorb the behaviours and attitudes of the people they spend the most time with. Does the way you use technology Model a positive attitude about learning?

In short, since learning occurs within the relationship between child and caregiver, and through “serve and return interaction,” nothing compares to hands-on activities done with a real human. That said, family literacy is about making the most of your everyday activities, and for a lot of families those activities include digital technology. Think of ways you can add value to these experiences!

Try these:

  • Turn closed captioning on when watching TV.
  • Use your smartphone camera together to capture items on a scavenger hunt.
  • When playing games on a tablet, make it truly interactive by talking about what’s happening and asking questions.

Digital technology has its place, but it’s important to unplug and have boundaries. Try “tech time-outs” for the whole family! Go outside and play together; bake together; do a craft together.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote from Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd. It’s a parody of the classic book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and is a great story to read together as a way to transition into your “tech time-outs:”

“Goodnight remotes and Netflix streams, Androids, apps and glowing screens. Goodnight MacBook Air, goodnight gadgets everywhere.”

NOTE: 
You can download our free Flit app for literacy activities to do with your children 0-5 years old, without adding screen time for your children! The app for parents, which was completely upgraded last fall, has more than 125 activities under eight categories: books, rhymes, games, crafts, writing, numbers, cooking, and reading. With so many activities, you can use it to incorporate literacy into most of your daily routines for a long time to come. After awhile, you will learn to come up with your own activities.

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.