Modern children become familiar with computers, smartphones, and tablets at a very early age. This trend is of concern to parents, pediatricians, and psychologists who talk about the possible negative consequences of excessive device use. How can we protect our children?
8. Determine the maximum time your child is allowed to spend on a device.
The time that a child may spend watching TV or using digital devices depends on his age. The authoritative American Academy of Pediatrics gives the following recommendations:
- From birth to 18 months: no screens, including TV. The only exceptions are Skype sessions with a beloved grandmother and other relatives.
- From 2 to 5 years: the time spent at a screen per day should be no more than 1 hour. This hour includes everything: smartphone, TV, tablet, and computer.
- For children older than 6 years, it is worthwhile to set a certain time limit for digital devices (most specialists say a maximum of 2 hours per day). It is important to make sure that gadgets do not take time away from sleep, physical activity, or other activities necessary for the healthy development of your child.
7. Don’t simply prohibit — suggest other options.
Taking away a smartphone/tablet/laptop and saying “go do something else” is a direct way to conflict. We need to offer alternative interesting joint activities: sports, hiking, drawing, reading, fishing with dad, all depending on the age and preferences of your child.
6. Set an example.
Children copy the behavior of their parents. If the mother is reading a book, the likelihood that the child will also want a book is much higher than if the mother spends most of her time with her phone.
Reconsider your relationship with gadgets. How much time do you spend with them? How often do you check your e-mail, updates, or news? Do you have days free of the Internet and digital devices?
5. Be an intermediary and a guide for communicating with the digital world.
Show your child that the Internet and digital devices are not only entertainment but also a source of information and a storehouse of knowledge. Encourage children to explore and ask questions. Be ready to respond and share your experiences.
4. Pay attention to the quality of content the child is interested in.
Up until he is 9 years old, a child’s access to the Internet should be controlled by his parents. It is better to give priority to educational programs and sites that help the child develop different skills.
You should look into “parental control” functionality, which limits the sites available to your child.
3. Identify areas that will be free from the Internet and digital devices.
Choose certain spaces (bedroom, child’s room) and time (family dinner, time with nature) which will always be free from the Internet and digital devices. Do not put a computer in your child’s room. Let him know that one shouldn’t bring a tablet or a smartphone to the bedroom or dining table.
Pediatricians also recommend not using digital devices one hour before bedtime.
2. Help your child understand the principles of Internet communication and avoid possible mistakes.
It’s better for your child not to be on social networks until he is at least 12. For a teenager, it can be important to use social networks because this is a period when he learns to understand himself and to present himself to others.
It is important to be close by and help your teenager better understand the principles of online life. However, do not friend your children on social networks and definitely don’t comment on their posts and pictures — remember your child’s right to personal space.
1. Warn your child about the risks.
Once you allow your child to surf the Internet without your supervision, he needs to know about the possible dangers of the Internet. It is important to explain:
- how to respond to Internet bullying;
- how and why to adjust privacy settings;
- the dangerous consequences of open access to personal information;
- downloading materials and plagiarism.
Tell your child that everything that we publish on the Internet goes into the public domain and remains there forever. Everything we find there must be treated with care and caution. Finally, let your child know that he can always turn to you in case of a problem without fear of reproach.
Modern technologies can be dangerous, but don’t strive to completely isolate your child from them. After all, they are amazing resources for learning and can ignite creativity! Check out these devices thought up by kids: a portable movie theater and a LEGO iPad holder with “Mom” on it.