x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Beware the down side of the wonderful world of high-tech

About 6 per cent of children between the ages of three and four years old surf the Web from a tablet

Get ready to wipe those digital screens clean of smudge marks from little fingers.

In what may come as a surprise to some parents, 6 per cent of children between the ages of three and four years old surf the Web from a tablet, while more than a third of them go online with a desktop computer, laptop or pint-sized netbook.

Even the mobile phone is not off limits, as 3 per cent of these children use one to connect to digital content, according to a report released last year by Ofcom, the communications regulator in the United Kingdom.

Some people find the devices useful for boosting the general interest and engagement level of their children when it comes to learning.

But not all of the changes that have coincided with an influx of technology into the home have been positive.

Some experts warn that children are not fully developing their social skills and, instead, are stuck interacting with slates instead of other kids. There are also growing safety concerns.

"As most tablets or smartphones have got an ability to connect to the internet, it could mean children are exposed to some of the dangers of the internet without adequate supervision," warns Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer of Jacky's Electronics.

"In many households you would probably find the desktop or notebook computer kept in a particular part of the house where parents could monitor what their kids are doing. But with tablets there is no fixed place to use it in the house any more."

When asked, most children have said they would tell their parents or someone else if they discovered something inappropriate. Yet a minority noted they would not tell anyone, suggesting that some families may need support and advice in dealing with these kinds of incidents, according to Ofcom.