Cellphones 'good' for kids
Alet Rademeyer, Beeld
Johannesburg - Cellphones and social media networks have a valuable place in education and can, if used correctly, be a child's friend rather than an enemy.
This is the opinion of Dr Beverley Evangeledis, an educational psychologist who works as a specialist and counsellor at the AdvTech private schools and presents work sessions for parents and pupils.
Evangeledis said parents and teachers had to realise the use of technology in schools was increasing.
"Children have different learning styles and with technology you can get more out of them. But they have to be led to discover knowledge and to use technology to their educational advantage."
Evangeledis said there were examples in several schools on how pupils used technology to network when doing homework.
She said there was no right or wrong age at which to expose children to technology.
The younger a child was, the more involved parents had to be, however. "Parents have to set rules and boundaries from the word go. The younger the children, the more parents have to ensure that passwords and codes exist to monitor, for example, internet and technology use."
Evangeledis believes too many parents simply handed over a cellphone without thinking of the consequences.
"You should handle it as if you were giving your child a very expensive gift with a manual. You have to go through the instructions together and realise what the power of the device is."
Evangeledis said networks like Twitter, Facebook and MXit could be negative if it created a false sense of friendship under children and isolated them socially.
"Real communication, where people see one another and listen to each other, remains important.
"If a child's world mostly exists of the pushing of buttons, they can later have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality."
Evangeledis pointed out that cyber bullying and gossip, especially among girls, was increasing and that parents should be aware of it.
Regarding the amount of time that children spent on cellphones and networks, Evangeledis said parents should exercise strict control.
Otherwise one had situations where young children until late at night were busy with MXit or SMSes under their blankets and were tired at school the next day.