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Generation Alpha: Why Screen Time Is Good for Kids

The world has witnessed the population progress through Generations X, Y and Z in what seems to have been conflictingly both a gradual and drastic transition. Each group brought with it its own set of idiosyncrasies; individual quirks and annoyances while still significantly contributing to society at large. In flew the year 2010, and the world welcomed a new generation; a group of minute individuals set to aid the creation of the new norm in the way we work, play, think and live.

Typically, the seven-year-old is flipping through pics on mom’s Instagram account. Her one-year-old brother taps the screen of his iPad, choosing a YouTube video that would tickle his fancy while his mom desperately attempts to win the breakfast battle.

Cue Generation Alpha.

The group of people making up this generation are those born to Millennial Moms and Dads, between the year 2010 and 2025. Studies done on Generation Alpha have stated that they’ll be a “force to be reckoned with”.

Because Millennial parenting places significant focus on formal schooling and cognitive development, Generation Alpha should in theory be a highly educated and intelligent group. Technology opens a whole new realm of information and opportunities and since they’ve been seamlessly born into an IT-enhanced world, they’d only naturally have the potential to be the most highly educated. Gone are the days where drastic improvements in technology were deemed yet another novelty for the elite. It’s now become a useful necessity. Things seem to be progressing at a pace that many parents find hard to keep up with, but for their kids, it’s all they know.

Before many of them have reached their first birthdays, they have already mastered the basic functions of a smart device. Fast forward a year or so and they’re teaching their parents a thing or two about operating their own devices. Many schools have now abandoned the use of traditional chalk boards in favour of smart boards as an aid in conducting lessons. iPads or tablets have joined the list of annual stationery requirements for kids as young as pre-school age.

Being a parent is hard enough, and every period brought with it its own set of challenges. Besides just providing kids with their basic needs and all the extras to make sure that they have ample opportunity and comfort, there’s also the pressure of parenting in a socially acceptable way. Abiding by societal parenting norms can be quite stressful. Ironically, while the development of technology has made life a great deal easier for the parents of this generation, it’s also brought with it a fresh set of parenting challenges. This of course brings us to a topic which has long been the centre of much debate – screen time; how much is too much?

The consensus on the negatives of an excess in exposure to smart devices (particularly for kids) is a stale story. Parental views and studies alike have come together in outlining the disadvantages of an overindulgence in technology.

The modern-day lifestyle has become so demanding that we as parents are often guilty of subconsciously using various forms of technology to occupy our kids, just so we can squeeze in those extra few minutes of errands or much-needed downtime.

This is where the real danger lies. As much as technology gets criticized, it gets misused, decreasing its value and adding instead to its detrimental potential. Technology should be used as anything else would be; constructively. Pleasingly, the need for serving the generation born into the technological boom is being recognised, and an increasing number of useful applications are being developed. There are games and applications that aim to enhance almost every skill. Interactive technology has been said to improve hand-eye coordination, spatial development and language skills. It promotes school readiness and cognitive development and a higher capacity for visual concentration.

Furthermore, when technology is used appropriately, it can be used in collaboration with other people, enhancing social skills. It develops problem solving skills and, since many games require completing one level to progress to the next, increases motivation to complete tasks.

Yet another development in the tech world is augmented reality, or AR. Its ability to engage kids has made AR a powerful tool for education. The technology can allow students to experience climate change and witness historic events. It can even assist them with homework assignments.

Have you ever thought that your kids could teach you a thing or two about programming? Well, enter coding. This is essentially telling a computer, app, phone or website what one wants it to do. It’s being called the ‘new literacy’—something every child needs to know the basics of to excel in our rapidly changing world. If they can tell an adult what to do, they can instruct a device.

weFix has recently introduced its latest drone, the Ryze Tello, powered by DJI. The smallest in size and most affordable, the Tello possesses a feature which other drones do not: an MIT-developed coding system for kids and teens to learn the basics of programming while having fun. Read more about it here.

The fundamental characteristic of the Alphas is their relationship with IT. They’re born into it. It’s not something that they would need to learn to understand, it’s already an existing part of the environment they enter. The world and its occupants are constantly evolving, creating new norms. Generation Alpha will be at liberty to utilise the advantage they have in being born as masters of tech as an aid in the further evolution of technology, making the relationship somewhat reciprocal… A mutual interdependence. Of course, one should never take away from the benefits of reading a good old paperback novel, playdates in the mud or a run around in the sun. Finding a balance is essential. Technology is now a necessity and intentionally preventing children from developing in this regard will place them at a severe disadvantage, hindering their growth in an IT-enhanced life.

At weFix, we encourage the development of educated, well-balanced and happy kids (and moms).