Should the use of tech gadgets by kids be regulated?

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Should the use of tech gadgets by kids be regulated?
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Quinn Dombrowski

These days kids have more access to toys, gadgets and entertainment as ever before. This raises the question how good is that for them and should we do something? Should the use of tech gadgets by kids be regulated?

On one hand this seems logical. Kids should play with real toys more, right? There’s nothing like good old action figures, stuffed animals, constructors, etc.

Instead, a lot of kids prefer computers, video games and smartphones. Each country is doing something different. France banned the use of phones in school for all kids under the age of 15.

Finland on the other hand embraces technology. It’s one of the few countries where kids learn how to code starting from 1st grade in school.

Countries like the US for example leave it up to states and even individual schools to decide what’s best for them. And in the UK the government says they recognize the possible issues, but aren’t going to outright ban the phones for kids.

“In some places, laws are required. In other places, it’s just that as a society we have to mature to make the most out of this technology, which is amazing and brilliant, rather than use it badly. I think it’s really hard to parent in the digital age. It’s one of the hardest times to be a parent because there’s this new technology that often the children understand better than the grownups. And there aren’t norms of how we use it”, says the UK culture secretary, Matt Hancock in an interview for The Guardian.

“We don’t rule out legislation,” he added. “It is best if this approach is done internationally, but it doesn’t have to be. Because ultimately, we need more political accountability over an area of life where there is a huge amount of power in the hands of a small amount of people.”

Would regulation work? Usually, when you ban something for kids, this only makes it more attractive to them. On the other hand big companies like Google and Apple are now adding more tools and features to their mobile platforms which help lower the amount of screen time, without outright banning it.

So, maybe the balance is the answer? One thing is for sure – the use of tech gadgets by kids shouldn’t be fully banned or heavily restricted. On the other hand kids should be educated more about the risks and shown that life can be fun without staring at the screen all the time.