4 ways to bring up a tech-savvy tot

If you can’t beat ’em… Learn smart ways to make the most of the time junior spends on tech toys.


Before they became parents, IT consultant Michael Rodriguez, 38, and his wife, Jamie Siow, 35, a stay-at-home-mum, vowed that they wouldn’t expose their young children to any form of technology.

         “We kept hearing horror stories about kids getting addicted to the iPad and in some cases, too much screen time requiring them to wear glasses by age 3,” Siow said. “So, we decided to wait until our children were much older before allowing them any screen time.”

          Fast forward two years and the couple now lets their 20-month-old son, Liam, enjoy occasional screen time. “It was hard to shelter him from technology because it’s everywhere,” Rodriguez points out. “Also, there are many educational and engaging apps that could benefit Liam.”

          Michael and Jamie are among many parents today struggling to set clear boundaries for their mini-digital natives. Their dilemma — regulating tech usage even as they ensure that junior isn’t losing out on its advantages.

Whatever apps or programs they use should encourage them to think, learn, talk and sing — not just watch passively.

          With technology a driving force in our world today, screen time is a very real aspect of modern parenting. Yet, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, not when playing with the tablet or smartphone can help your little one hone their hand-eye coordination and even improve language skills.

          Points out Dr Yang Chien-Hui, a senior lecturer at SIM University’s School of Human Development & Social Services, “A good age-appropriate educational software program can illustrate various social situations and model the appropriate behaviours and language for children.”

           Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) changed its tune after 15 years. The AAP had previously recommended that children under 2 years should not sit in front of a TV, or play on tablets or phones. In October 2015, it announced that it is revising its ironclad guidelines for children and screens. “In a world where ‘screen time’ is becoming simply ‘time’, our policies must evolve or become obsolete,” the AAP’s Dr Ari Brown said in a statement. 

          While you can’t escape technology, as with anything, moderation is key. Here are ways to keep you and your tyke on the right tech track:

1) Set age-appropriate screen-time limits

The effect technology has on little ones is amazing as the fussiest baby or tantrum-throwing toddler calms down in front of a flickering screen. However, Dr Yang recommends no more than 30 minutes of supervised screen time per day for children aged 2, 60 minutes for 3-year-olds, and 90 minutes for kids between 4-and 5-years-old.

         Notes Shem Yao, a senior coach at Touch Cyber Wellness, which promotes cyber wellness, “Parental supervision should extend up until Primary school if possible, so that you can help them process and reinforce learning points.” 

Load more for three more tips for techy tots…