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by Lindsay Grubb, wife & mom to a nearly 3 yr old daughter and owner of L Communications where she helps you get the right message across to the right audience. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

A few weeks ago I had a major deadline. It was 10pm and I still had to write a 2800 word article that night. Ciara didn’t want to go to sleep. I pulled out my laptop and sat on my bed, trying to work while she entertained herself, waiting for her to fall asleep. My plan failed. She became excited and rushed off to fetch her laptop and her “homework” book. She then proceeded to work next to mommy, but it’s hard to write when you have “Mary had a Little Lamb”, playing over and over through her laptop and your head.

At almost three, she knows what a cell phone is and comes running with it when it rings so I can answer it.

Yesterday she told me to put down my phone and play with her. It made me realise how addicted I have become to technology, even outside working hours.

What are we teaching our children? It is true, that in this age of information, it has become critical to teach our young ones computer literacy. They need to know how to use MS Office, email and the internet, but are our children losing out on the carefree childhood we experienced?  As a child I spent all my time outside, playing with my friends, riding my bike, climbing trees and jungle gyms, scraping my knees more than once.  Isn’t that something we should be encouraging in our children?

In a world where technology is progressing rapidly, and the majority of children know more than we do about computers, cell phones, iPods, Nintendo’s and Playstation’s, how do we know when it’s the right time to introduce technology to our children?

There really is no right or wrong answer here. I think it’s a case of balance. It’s necessary to have our children prepared, but we need to help them to embrace their spirit of adventure and encourage a vivid imagination.

In South Africa our children are scoring a C- on their “Healthy Kids Report Card”. One in three children watches more than three hours of TV per day. Our children are at risk to predators on their cell phones on programmes MXit, and they’re putting out too much personal information on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

I think a good time to introduce technology to our children, is when they have a clear understanding of the responsibility and consequences linked to its usage. Online consensus through a number of different articles on the topic seems to be that eight years old is a safe time, but this means they’re not computer literate when they go to school, which seems necessary these days, so I’m not entirely sure.

What do you think is the best age for introducing your children to technology and should we be leading by example and limiting our usage or is it more of a “do as I say and not as I do” situation?

Copyright © Lindsay Grubb 2011 – All rights reserved

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