RICHARDSON –– Tablets, computers, and smart phones are becoming pacifiers for children. The gadgets are in the car, at the restaurant and in the doctor’s office –– but while they buy parents precious moments of serenity, some surveys show that even young children are spending more than two hours a day in front of screens.
Fernando Mujica is a research and development executive at Texas Instruments. He and his team perfect the digital brains that will power the next generation of gadgets. Yet Mujica says he strictly controls how much tech is taken in by the next generation in his own household,
“My kids have very limited access to this kind of technology,” he said. “I’m talking one or two hours a week type of thing.”
Still, his 3-year-old is picking it up quick. And he’s not the only one.
“I hear all the time parents get frustrated when they give their children a book, an old fashioned book, and they start swiping or pushing buttons because they are hard wired to gravitate toward technology. There’s no escaping it,” says Gina Gory from High Tech Kids USA.
Each week she visits the Congregation Beth Torah preschool in Richardson. There, she instructs students as young as three to use tech as a tool rather than a toy.
“We want to take the technology to another level and not just be a babysitter,” says school director Esther Wolf.
She says times have changed, so have kids, and parents need to as well.
“We don’t teach our children the way we taught them 30 years ago in math or science. We teach them the science of today,” she said. “This is part of our world.”
And it’s becoming more so. Back at Texas Instruments, tech developer and dad Fernando Mujica, who limits his own children’s screen time, acknowledges that engineers are increasingly considering kids as consumers.
“We’re starting to become more and more aware of that,” he said. “It didn’t used to be the case before.”