Everyone, including young children, seems to be connected today. Whether it’s playing games, using educational apps, watching YouTube videos, or thumbing through social media, screen time is part of our culture. Despite technology’s role in our lives, it has also been linked to emotional and health risks, including the tendency to sit instead of exercising, sleeping problems, social isolation, and bullying.
Listed below are five tips that can help children become safe digital learners and develop the 21st-century skills that will be critical for their future well-being.
Set Limits On Children’s Screen Time
A child’s ability to explore reality through unstructured, real-life play is boosted by unstructured, real-life play.
Monitor your children’s internet activity to keep them safe!
In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two should avoid using digital media altogether, except for the occasional video chat with family members, and children aged two to five should spend no more than an hour a day using digital media. The fact that your preschooler or school-aged child spends some time in front of the screen is not the end of the world. Make sure to set limits for your child and encourage them to spend time in free play with friends or siblings, to read on their own or with you, to go for walks, to play outdoors, and to spend time in a variety of activities. It is also important to remember that the more interactive the time spent on devices is, the better it is for your child.
Actively Engage With Your Child’s Online Experiences
As a parent, you talk to your children about what they did at school and who their friends are. In addition, it is just as important to talk to your kids about what they are doing online and who they are chatting with. You should sit with your children while they are online, and participate in what they are watching, reading, and doing while they are online. It is more than just being a monitor; it is also being a facilitator and participating in the learning process with them. Your children should know that they are always welcome to talk to you about anything, including what they see online. There is no doubt that the more interaction you have with your children during screen time, the better.
Use Technology As A Tool For Creation
What does your child learn as they swipe their fingers across the screen of the app they love? Children can discover, create, and tinker using technology, but only if the tools they use encourage inquiry and critical thinking. In our programs, we make sure the children “drive” the technology, rather than the technology driving them. Always check reviews before downloading those favorite online apps or games to ensure they are age-appropriate and put children in control.
Teach Children To Be Thoughtful Online.
It is possible for digital footprints to last for a long time. Have a discussion with your children about how their postings can affect people’s opinions of them, whether that be good or bad. In order to teach your children the importance of thinking critically about what they hear and read online, as well as where it comes from, you must model good online behavior for them. Regardless of how old or young we are, we can all benefit from a reminder to pause and think before reacting to something we saw or heard from a friend, whether we are online or not, whether we are watching or listening.
Make Tech-Free Zones Part Of Your Home And Life.
All good times to put the screens down are mealtime, family time, and bedtime. Putting your electronics away and engaging with your family the old-fashioned way is more important than turning down the volume and keeping the screen on in the background. There is no telling where a conversation (or a game) will lead. Would you like help figuring out how to do this?
Need some ideas? Using a box as a “phone home” is a great option. All phones and portable electronics should be kept “at home” during meal times, daily activities, and bedtime. This is a great reminder to everyone (kids and adults) about when and how to put the screens away and engage in real-time interactions with one another.