Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all been stuck indoors faced with fewer options of activities and things to do. As a result of this, both parents and children have likely experienced a significant increase in the amount of their daily screen time. Whether you’re dealing with numerous work-related Zoom meetings, or simply looking for a way to take your mind off of the day-to-day, technology has become a consuming and constant presence in our lives.
Kids thrive on socializing with their peers and fun activities, neither of which have been easily accessible while cooped up indoors. One of the easiest ways to keep little ones entertained is to let them play on a tablet/phone/computer or watch tv. Many parents might feel guilty about their child’s increased screen time, but technology is such an easy thing to turn to when there isn’t much else currently going on in the world. How can you determine if your child’s screen time is healthy or unhealthy? There are pros and cons to technology use for your little one, so explore what they’re doing and make adjustments from there!
1. Find Educational Online Resources
While screen time for children tends to have a bad reputation, there are plenty of educational resources that can be extremely beneficial for young minds. From apps that help them learn to Live Classes that will teach them how to read, dance, solve math problems, and much more, there are many ways that screen time can help, rather than hurt, your child. One of the main ways that you can monitor your child’s use of tech is to be very intentional about what content they’re engaging with. Ask yourself — Is it educational? Does it help them to expand their mind and creativity?
2. Engage With Them
Because children’s minds at a young age are so malleable, it’s extremely important that they have adequate opportunities to explore, create, and think freely during unstructured playtime! One way to make sure that your little one isn’t passively and mindlessly staring at their screen is to engage in the content with them; “By watching together, you can help your child understand what he or she is seeing and apply it in real life.” With any of our 65+ Live Classes, you can rest assured that your child is connecting with their peers, establishing meaningful relationships with their teachers, and learning many new concepts. You can choose to take part in the fun with them or attend to your other responsibilities and know that they’re engaging with technology in a hands-on and innovative way!
3. Set Guidelines For Technology Use
Another important step to exploring your child’s tech use is to establish guidelines and rules. If you have multiple children, you’ll need to adapt these rules for each child, depending on their ages. The Mayo Clinic recommends that, “If you introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it’s high-quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2-5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming.” A simple way to follow this is to set a timer at the start of your child’s screen time use for their allotted time (this app is an amazing way to track their usage!)
4. Encourage Conversations About Screen Time
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is have a conversation with your child about the internet/technology. If they’re very young, this discussion may have to wait for a few years. If they’re at an age where you feel they’re ready to have more freedom and interaction with technology, clearly explain to them what your expectations are, situations that could take place on the internet, and encourage them not to believe everything that they find on the internet as fact – critical analysis is key!
Screen time for every child and family is going to look very different, based on a variety of factors. Ideally, it’s always best to supervise your child’s technology use and engage in the content alongside them, however, that’s not always possible. Regardless of what rules you set and what expectations you have, make sure to keep a healthy dialogue with your child surrounding the internet and technology as a whole. These are things that will be integrated into their day-to-day for the rest of their lives, so it’s important to have discussions with them from an early age so they can know what to expect and how to have healthy boundaries (nothing beats some unplugged time spent outdoors!).