A question that parents often ask themselves is, how much technology should their children be exposed to? Whether it's playing on a games console, using an iPad or smartphone, researching homework on a laptop or texting with friends, technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives.
How do we find the balance between the usefulness of technology for us and our children, and their ability to form real, lasting social connections and bonds, without technology being a major factor. Of course, technology, society and the way that we interact are evolving all the time; Facebook didn't exist ten years ago, and now many of us, especially children, spend extraordinary amounts of time there.
Technology and innovation aren't bad things and we shouldn't try to artificially restrict access to technology that is genuinely useful; rather, it is what the technology is used for that should be our guide in how our children use it.
At its best, technology makes the world a smaller place. It connects us, helps us to stay in touch and allows us to explore and research things from the comfort of our homes. At its worst, technology becomes a crutch, a way for children to not connect with people in the real world, and a distraction from their school work and social circles.
The way to balance these areas is to ensure that a child spends at least as much time without technology as they do with it. In other words, they should be encouraged to go out, make friends and explore social connections. For every moment they spend on an iPad, they should spend a moment without it. Reading from a book together with a child is a greater way to bond with them than letting them sit in their room alone playing video games.
These boundaries need to be set from a young age, and it's vital that technology not be seen as being 'taboo', as that will just make it all the more attractive. Instead, make the alternative to technology equally attractive, developing lasting bonds of connection, love and social interaction that will help your child throughout their life.
In short, the key to balancing the two is in understanding that technology is very useful and definitely has its place, but that it cannot replace a child's basic needs for quality time with their parents, siblings and friends and the lifelong learning that comes from having an appreciation of the real world around us.