With technology so intricately woven into our daily lives today it’s no surprise that our young ones have become experts at all things screen related. According to a study done by Common Sense Media, a website that promotes safe technology and media for children, 30 per cent of American kids first play with a mobile device while they’re still in diapers.
So, it comes as no surprise that earlier this month, The American Academy of Pediatrics loosened its strict 15-year-old policy of discouraging screen time for kids younger than 2-years-old and limiting it for older kids. This move is a clear indication that technology can play a positive role in a young one’s development. However, before you hand the device over to your tyke, read on to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure their time spent with the screen is beneficial.
SET LIMITS The use of technology, just like every other activity in life, should be done within reasonable limits. It’s tempting to want to turn on a Shaun the Sheep episode on YouTube and have your fussy little fella veg out for hours while you get some rest time. However, this might hinder his participation in other activities, such as some unstructured playtime outdoors, which helps boost creativity while sneaking in some exercise time. So, set a time frame — whether its 30 minutes or 60 minutes — and communicate this with your older child to avoid him throwing a tantrum later on. However, also be ready to be flexible if junior is engaged in high-quality content and is on the verge of learning a new skill. Don’t cut him off midway while his creative juices are flowing.
QUALITY CONTROL What your young ’un is watching is much more important than how long he’s watching it for. It doesn’t matter if you set a 30-minute screen-time limit if junior is watching or playing age-inappropriate videos or games. There are heaps of websites and apps that claim to be educational. Do a background check on them before you allow your child to view them.
STAY INVOLVED Have only one common iPad, laptop or computer and insist that it should be used in the family room so that you can keep an eye on what your child is doing. Punch up the fun factor and play a video game with your kiddo to understand his online behaviour and perspective better. By treating video games with your child as a bonding activity, both of you can experience more together. And do note that for infants and toddlers, coviewing is essential.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL Stop burying your face in your iPhone all the time and your brood will follow suit. Create tech-free zones — no screens during dinner or the weekends so you can fully focus on your little ones.
REPRIMAND WITH EMPATHY Kids will be kids and sometimes their curiosity might get the better of them. If you find out that your child has been visiting inappropriate sites, don’t be harsh or shame him. Instead, make it a teachable moment and educate him, with kindness, on what he’s doing wrong and why he shouldn’t be doing that.