Children have access to a vast array of computer technology and entertainment designed specifically for them. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over the age of two should have screen time for no more than two hours a day. This includes TV, internet videos, tablets, smartphones, games, and computers.
Here are some tips to encourage your child to experience technology in a healthy manner.
Lead by example
Children develop their idea of healthy screen time by watching how their parents use tablets and devices. Technology is such a part of our lives that avoiding your own devices entirely is likely not possible. However, you can try reducing your screen time around your child so that they will see that technology is only one part of your life.
Research the technology your child encounters
Technology can be a great way to support your child’s education. However, sometimes it can also offer no benefit other than entertainment, and may even be a negative distraction. Your child’s daycare or preschool is a great place to get information on the latest technology aimed at children, or resources you can use for your own research. Ask questions about the technology they use, and even try it out for yourself.
Don’t rely on technology to calm your child
Handing your phone or tablet to your child to calm or distract them does work. However, it can also create an unwanted dependency on devices and screen time. Young children are still learning how to deal with emotions, impulses, and boredom. Help them practice other ways to regulate their emotions, such as playing a game like I Spy, offering a book, or asking them to talk to you about how they’re feeling.
Create family screen-free times
Try creating family screen-free times during dinner, an hour before bed, or during weekend afternoons. Enjoying an activity on their own or with family during this time will help your child see that screens aren’t the only source of entertainment available.
Investigate apps that allow you to monitor screen time
Amongst the many apps and games available for children to access, there are some that are designed with a parent in mind. These apps and games allow you set a time for them to turn off, or let you pause them remotely. This can help your child enjoy their screen time without spending too long with it.
Technology for preschoolers and young children can be a great way to enhance their learning, and there are many ways you can encourage healthy behaviors around the use of technology.