For years, pediatrics supported the idea that children should not be dealing with their computers or phones for more than 2 hours. With the strong integration of technology into our lives, these beliefs are about to change. Although these screens are a big part of kids’ learning, it is still an important responsibility of parents to ensure that their little ones do not grow dependent on these devices.
Problems with the screen time
Your kids cannot imagine a life without their phones, right? They were born into a world where they were directly exposed with any form of technology. The impact of these devices for learning and entertainment is undeniable. However, a poor quality screen time might have harms more than benefits for your kids’ growth:
- Irregular sleeping schedule: Looking at screens for hours may cause severe sleeping problems including insomnia due to light emitted.
- Obesity: Sedentary activities such as playing an online game for hours might be a cause of getting overweight.
- Tendency to Violence: Many TV shows, video games and movies include violent elements. Children may learn through these and try to imitate such acts.
- Trouble focusing: Kids might find it difficult to engage with real life activities after being exposed to unreal concepts.
- Lack of communication: Kids may spend hours in front of their computer without speaking a word. This may lead to further problems about self expression in the future.
Why new screen time rules?
In a world where everything goes digital, it is impossible to ask kids to quit their phones. This digitalization procedure brings a more flexible approach for the screen time. Parents are encouraged to moderate their kids’ engagement with devices but they should not have strict restrictions as before.
American Association of Pediatrics(AAP) emphasizes that an overall embargo on technological devices is not necessary. Although the kids might be exposed to inappropriate content, there is an undeniable amount of educational content online. It is the parents’ job to make sure that kids get the right out of it.
What should be the approach?
How to set the limits for screen time depends a lot on kids’ maturity and age. Although it differs for each kid, we have several recommendations to ensure that your kids enjoy quality screen time:
- Encourage educational content:
In the early ages, it is important to teach kids that the media available should be used for the good. It is fine to play games and enjoy your time but this should not be the main focus of screen time. Lots of educational content is available on apps and websites. For example, Twing App includes many activities related to arts, science, robotics and many more. Children can try experiments at home while inspiring each other on the platform safely.
- Be a role model:
We all know kids imitate their parents. Make sure to set healthy limits for your own use of devices. Try to engage in physical activities or books to show them you are not dependent on your phone.
- Engage with kids’ digital world:
Learn about their favorite activities online. Try to engage with their digital world by coming up with options that you can enjoy together on your devices.
- Establish limits:
Kids might not be mature enough to set their limits and it is crucial to take the important steps before screens turn into an addiction. Recommend no screen times for dinner or car rides. Establish these rules as the whole family to engage kids better.
- Turn mistakes into lifelong learnings:
Be prepared to see your child failing in handling their devices. Whether he logs into an inappropriate website or goes over the data limits, make him understand the lesson of the mistake.
- Check their social media:
Social media can be challenging to handle for kids especially for younger ones. They might develop their communication skills as well as their confidence while expressing themselves online. However, make sure you have an idea of their accounts and what they share.
- Take a day off:
You can consider a digital detox day or week. The family as a whole should accept to leave their phones, iPads and laptops aside for one day. You may come up with activities such as book discussions or box games to strengthen the family bonds. At the end of the day, do not forget to talk about how it made you feel to be away from the screens.