Digital technologies have become an inseparable part of our kids’ lives. Children and teenagers are growing up surrounded by screens and technology today. So, managing your children’s screen time may be very challenging. Many parents are unsure how much screen time is too much? Should you place the limits on your kids’ screen time or on the content they are engaging with online? These questions are causing stress and anxiety for many parents.
Both parents and experts agree that unstructured, free play is much more beneficial for a young child’s development and health than electronic devices. Also, studies show that using screen time excessively or engaging with poor content online has been linked to:
- Behavioral problems
- A greater risk of obesity
- Irregular sleep patterns
- A lack of social skills
- Poor grades
- Attention problems
- Reduced sensitivity to violence
Benefits of Screen Time
On the other hand, different studies have demonstrated that electronic media can spark a child’s creativity and boost critical thinking skills. It can also improve your child’s communication skills, increase their self-esteem, help them learn and develop new skills, and learn and practice collaboration.
Young children can benefit from some types of screen time. According to Mitchel Resnick from MIT Media Lab, rather than trying to limit a child’s screen time, parents and teachers should take full advantage of creative possibilities that screen time offers.
Namely, some studies suggest that it is the nature rather than the length of your child’s screen time that matters. So, instead of worrying about the device use limit, parents should think about how to stay present and relevant and guide their kids’ screen time to get the most out of it.
How to Guide Your Children’s Screen Time Use?
Since our kids are growing up in a digital era, it is important to teach them healthy and safe concepts of digital use. By using digital resources together, you can help your child understand the responsible use of screen time and help them take advantage of it. Here are a few tips on how to guide your child’s screen time.
- Emphasize the Creative Aspect of Screen Time
Instead of focusing on limiting your child’s screen time, ask yourself, “Is my child learning? Which online content will help my child develop? Will digital activities engage my child in imaginative expression and creative thinking? Is my child engaging in safe activities online?”
Know your kids’ online friends as well as the platforms, software, and apps they are using. Pay attention to what websites they are visiting. Encourage your children to use educational apps and platforms and ensure they are making age-appropriate choices.
- Be a Good Role Model
Studies show that parents’ media habits affect a child’s media use. So, limit your own media use and try interacting with your kids face-to-face whenever you have a chance.
- Limit Screen Time for the Youngest
Avoid screen time for kids younger than 18 to 24 months. Watch digital media together with your toddler and encourage other activities such as free play, outdoor time, sports, or art and craft play. Be involved in your kids’ lives.
Research shows that screen time doesn’t necessarily cause a child’s isolation from family and friends. On the contrary, if used reasonably and responsibly, screen time can help bring families together, by allowing parents and kids to watch movies and documentaries, play educational games, and learn together.
Take care and keep healthy and positive,