How can you make sure your children are not tech illiterate, but also not tech-saturated in today's day and age?
Have you ever had a little kid school you on new technology? Much like we taught our parents how to program the VCR back in the day, our kids today seem to understand new tech almost as immediately as it comes out, no matter if it is a new device, new application or new platform. While it might be adorable to have your preschooler explain to you how a new gadget works when you can’t seem to figure it out yourself, we face a challenge when trying to find a certain “sweet spot” in the balancing act that is parenting. How do we find the proper amount of exposure to technology is important to ensure our kids know how to handle technology properly while not being overwhelmed by it?
You are the greatest expert when it comes to your own kids. You may not be a child behaviorist or a pediatric psychologist, but nobody knows your child better than you do. That being said, there are a couple of old cliches that ring absolutely true: “parenting does not come with an instruction manual”, and “it takes a village to raise a child”. In other words, while there’s no official guidebook, there are plenty of resources we can rely on to help us find the ideal balance when it comes to guiding our children through growing up in a hyper-connected world.
Dr. Aris Mosley is a District Medical Group provider and Medical Director of the Valleywise Health First Episode Center. She is board certified in both adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. In this blog post for Valleywise Health, she breaks down how too much screen time can lead to obesity, sleep problems, chronic neck and back problems, depression, anxiety and lower test scores in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ standard recommendation for children 2-5 years old is for screen time to be limited to
1 hour daily, and that children under 2 only use video chatting. They also recommend that all children avoid screen time during meals and one hour before bedtime. The AAP has also made this tool available online. You can follow a few easy steps to customize a plan you can follow to help in this pursuit of screen time balance.
While we will always encourage you to do your own research and use critical thinking to made the decisions that work for you and your family, here are some quick tips you can easily implement into your routine:
Quality Over Quantity: guide your children to engage with high-quality, educational content rather than mindless entertainment.
Tech-Free Zones and Times: designate specific areas of your home as tech-free zones, such as the dining table or bedrooms. Also, establish tech-free times, like during family meals or before bedtime.
Lead by Example: show your children a balanced relationship with technology by demonstrating responsible tech usage yourself. Remember that kids emulate what you do, not what you say.
Outdoor and Offline Activities: Get outside to play, practice sports, hobbies, and other offline activities that promote physical and social development. Balance tech time with real-world experiences.
Encourage Critical Thinking: Help your children develop critical thinking skills by asking questions about the content they engage with. Encourage them to think analytically, evaluate information, and express their opinions.
Remember that the goal is not to completely shield your children from technology but to help them develop a healthy and balanced relationship with it. As they grow, continue to adapt your approach to suit their changing needs and the ever-evolving technological landscape of our society and remember, you don’t have to do it all alone.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The average daily screen time in the United States today is six hours for children between ages eight and to, nine hours for kids ages eleven to fourteen, and seven hours for youth and adults. What can you do to help your kids beat the statistics and have a smaller digital footprint?
An accomplished translator and writer, Cami has been in the creative field for nearly two decades. Her experience as a linguist in several fields, paired with her background as a native Latina immigrant (born and raised in Brazil and naturalized American citizen) gives her a unique perspective on the social and cultural context of our society. She has been with Techless since 2022 and currently lives in Michigan with her husband of twelve years, their eight-year-old son, and their puppy Oreo.