Today’s children, practically from birth, demonstrate an impressive familiarity with smartphones, computers, and tablets. This is a trend that has become a cause for concern for parents, pediatricians, and psychologists, who address the possible negative consequences that can arise from overusing these devices. How can we protect our children in today’s society?
We have identified 8 basic principles that enable healthy interaction between children and new technologies.
Set the maximum time your child can use electronic devices
The amount of time a child can spend in front of screens should vary according to his age. Authority on the matter, the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends the following:
- From birth to 18 months: no electronic devices, including television. The only exceptions would be video chat sessions with the dear grandma who lives far away and with other relatives.
- From 2 to 5 years: the maximum time in front of the devices must not exceed 1 hour. During this period, all gadgets can be included, from the smartphone to TV, tablet, and computer.
- For children over 6 years of age, a maximum time limit should be set for the use of digital devices (most experts agree with a maximum of 2 hours per day). In addition, it is important to ensure that electronic devices will not affect the child’s time that should be allocated to sleep, physical activities, and other tasks necessary for health and correct development.
Don’t forbid: offer other options
Removing the tablet, smartphone, tablet, or laptop and saying “go do something else” only makes it probably end in a tantrum. It is necessary to offer an alternative, some interesting joint activity: doing sports, spending a day in the countryside, drawing, reading, fishing … all depending on the child’s age and interests.
Set an example
Children imitate their parents’ behavior. When the mother likes to read, for example, the chances of the child also enjoying it are much greater when compared to the children of mothers who spend all the time on the cell phone.
Rethink your relationship with electronic devices. How much time have you been dedicating to them? How often do you check your mailbox, social media messages, or news? Do you give yourself free days of the Internet and digital devices?
Be a mediator and guide for communication between your child and the digital world
Show your child that the Internet and digital devices are not just for fun, but also as a source of information and knowledge. Encourage your child to explore and ask questions. On the other hand, you need to be prepared to respond and share experiences.
Pay attention to the quality of the content that the child consumes
Up to 9 years of age, the child must always be accompanied by a guardian when accessing the web. After that age, parents can use parental monitoring apps like FamilyTime that allow parents to keep a keen eye on their kids’ digital activities and provide avid parental controls too. With the app, parents can monitor what content does their kid consumes on the internet and for how long he stays on it. With the help of this app, parents can prioritize educational programs and sites that help the little one to train their own attention and communication skills, stimulating cognitive interest, and memory. Another advantage of the FamilyTime app is the web filtering feature that allows parents to block unwanted content on kids’ devices conveniently. If you want to see how does the app work, give this app a free trial now. You can get the trial version of the app from the app store on your phone.
Establish areas free of Internet and electronics
Define areas (bedroom, kitchen), times, and occasions (family lunch, dinner, trips to enjoy nature) in which the Internet and digital devices should be left out. Do not install a computer in the child’s room, and make it clear that the child cannot take the tablet or cell phone to the bedroom or dining table.
Pediatricians also recommend that parents do not allow their children to stand in front of digital device screens for at least 1 hour before going to bed.
Help the child to understand the principles of interaction on social networks, avoiding possible mistakes
Up to 12 years old, it is better to avoid social networks. For teenagers who have passed that age, access to these tools is even important, as they are at the stage of understanding themselves, understanding how they are seen by others, and seeking the approval of other young people.
At this stage of life, it is important for parents to be around, helping their children understand the basic principles of interaction on social networks. But it is better not to add children to your friend’s list. Most importantly, do not post comments on the timeline or photos of teenagers: remember that your child also has the right to privacy.
Clarify the risks
At this age, when teenagers can surf the web without their supervision, it is essential to warn them about the dangers that may be hidden on the Internet. Try to explain everything related to these dangers and help them make a strategy to keep themselves safe.