Do you let your little ones watch television or have computer time? At what age did you let them start using technology on a regular basis? Did it start as a way to calm a fussy toddler? Or maybe it came to be as a way to educate your preschooler? Or maybe it just happened out of necessity in elementary school?
How much is okay and how much is too much? These are all questions parents ask themselves on a daily basis.
Most of us know that the Academy of Pediatrics says no screen time before two. Hell, most of us are so afraid that television and tech will hinder development that we won’t let our children anywhere near a screen until they are at least 2, but with each passing year life, it becomes harder to shut out technology. Technology toys, tablets and screens are readily available and even cater to very small children. It becomes hard to know what’s helping our child and what’s hurting them.
After a recent study, pediatricians are saying that parents need to seriously restrict tweeting and texting and keep technology out of their teen’s bedroom, as well as limit entertainment screen time to no more than two hours a day. Under the new policy, the two hours of media includes using the Internet for Facebook, Twitter, TV and movies.
Too much tech has been linked to violence, cyberbullying, problems in school, obesity and insomnia. The bottom line is that exposure to media has a profound effect on adolescence.
Yet, despite the new recommendations, a 2010 report found that U.S. children aged 8 to 18 spent an average of more than seven hours a day using some kind of entertainment media. Our children, even our teen ones, need boundaries so they don’t overindulge in social media and miss living their life in real time.
A few ways that I reign in the use of screens in my house is by sticking to a few easy rules:
Set Time Limits
In my house, I only allow one hour per day, right after school to complete homework.
Parental controls are great. And we have them on everything. For older kids, I know parents who turn off the wifi after a certain time.
Designate a space
Locate tech screens in a common area, like an office – not in bedrooms. That way it’s easier to supervise use.
I work online, so I know what a time suck the Internet can be. It has its purpose as an educational aid, but if children are left unattended with it, they can wander down a path you might not want them exploring quite yet.