Be gatekeepers and role models in digital usage

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The panel discussion (from left): Moderator Izza Izelan; Aishah Sinclair; Dr Shen-Li Lee; and Catherine Nebauer, general manager, ZooMoo Networks for Australasia.

EXPOSING young children to the television – either you hate it or you don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Parents seem divided about this.

You can try to protect them from screens as much as possible but eventually most families succumb to peer pressure or because the children are exposed to it through the environment. Unless you live in a cave, it’s pretty difficult to hide technology from the kids.

At a recent panel session organised by ZooMoo, a television channel for preschool children featuring animals, this topic along with the challenge of raising a child in the digital era was discussed.

“Parents need to be the gatekeepers for their child’s time and activities spent on screens. Similar to any other activity such as play time, kids do not know when to stop and are likely to be upset when they are told to. It is about understanding your child and what works for them,” Dr Shen-Li Lee, author of Brainchild – Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential and founder of figur8.net.

Restricting technology may not be the best way to navigate the digital space. Dr Lee cited an example that although PC/videogames are often associated with the negative effects they have on children, there is some underlying value for their development including problem-solving skills and creativity. In addition, depending on the type of game, they can also be exposed to real-life scenarios such as trading.

Relating to her personal experience, Aishah Sinclair, celebrity mom of two, radio DJ and ZooMoo brand ambassador, said “Sometimes hiding the iPad from my girls does not work as they catch me using my mobile phone to answer urgent work email. As parents, we need to ensure that we set good examples for our children to understand and emulate.”

The panel session was held at the newly-opened Parenthood family park in Sunway Pyramid Mall in conjunction with ZooMoo’s Big Day Out.