Even Melinda Gates isn’t sure when her kids should have gotten their own smartphones. The philanthropist and businesswoman, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, writes in the Washington Post about the challenges of trying to weigh technology’s benefits and the way they impact kids growing up – her kids included.
Parenting in the age of technology is a moving target, with experts concurrently heralding the benefits of teaching kids to code while warning of the dangers and disconnection that also lurk with the whole world at still-growing fingertips.
Gates offers tips to parents trying to navigate smartphones and social media, which can be tools for learning, inclusion and support, directing them to a bevy of resources including the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Family Media Plan, which walks people through planning for their family’s media consumption.
Amid a slew of possibilities for the benefits of moderated consumption of social and digital media for various age groups, the AAP points out concerns including obesity, less sleep and potential developmental delays when kids watch too much TV. It’s got recommendations for no screen time before bed or at mealtimes, and loads of reminders about the importance of actual human interaction.
But if five-year-olds can go to coding camp, and further, are sent there to hone skills that could prepare them for a whole new job market and world when they get older, the question remains as to where to draw the line and when to unplug to give kids the most advantages possible from these new technologies, without making them too much of a distraction.