THE BLOG

Children Learning Digitally From 2 1/4 Years of Age

21/02/2013 15:46 GMT | Updated 22/04/2013 10:12 BST

New research recently released by Vodafone has revealed just how much smartphones and tablets have become part of our children's lives. The age that young children start showing an interest in smartphones and tablets is just two and-a-quarter years old and two out of three parents surveyed said their technology-savvy pre-schoolers already have a favourite app. It also revealed that 93 per cent of parents surveyed use their smartphones and tablets with their children, with 60 per cent regularly downloading numbers, spelling and colouring apps.

I'm sure this won't come as a surprise to many parents or indeed to anyone who has seen a parent trying grab 5 minutes peace to drink their coffee or finish a meal by handing over their phone. As a parent of a 14 year old myself, I know how important technology is within a family. It entertains, it educates, it keeps us in touch and sometimes it throws new and unexpected challenges our way. That is why as CEO and Founder of The Parent Zone and as a board member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, I've been working with Vodafone to launch their new Digital Parenting Guide.

Clearly, as parents, we've embraced the positive impact these devices can bring, whatever our children's ages, unlocking new ways for kids to learn and be entertained, and over 80% of those surveyed said they would consider buying a smartphone or tablet for their children by their 10th birthday.

I bought my son one of the first PSP's for Christmas when he was just 7 years old and his first iPad for his 12th birthday, and I have no doubt that on balance technology has added to his childhood not diminished it. But whilst we know the positive impact these devices can have on children, it's also incredibly important that as parents, we are well informed about the best ways for our kids to use these devices safely and responsibly.

We were delighted when Vodafone asked us to work with them to develop their Digital Parenting Guide. It has been designed to help parents make the most out of technology, offering advice on how to make the most of parental controls across all the technology in your household, including your computers, phones and tablets. Importantly, it also includes information to help parents think about how to set boundaries that are age appropriate, what to do if their child experiences a difficulty and for the first time bridges the gap between technology information and parenting advice.

Highlights included in the guide are ten 'How To' guides that give a simple break down of how to set up safety controls across a range of phone's, websites, social networks and games consoles and it also gives you access to expert advice and guidance with articles from more than 25 digital experts, including psychiatrists, parenting, industry experts, academics, children's charities and teachers.

The guide is that it's free and available to all UK families, regardless of if you're a Vodafone customer or not.

The rapid change of technology isn't going to slow down, and nor should it be something to be afraid of. Discovering new ways to interact and learn as a family is exciting and a true benefit of living in the digital age. I hope that the Digital Parenting Guide will help to offer peace of mind, support and guidance so that you can enjoy technology without worry. And if you do have a concern it will be there to answer your questions.

The Digital Parenting Guide can be downloaded as a PDF by visiting www.vodafone.com/parents.