In this day and age where technology is ever-present, it is important to teach children how to safely use the internet and help them learn healthy concepts of digital use. Here are some tips to follow to manage your child’s time spent using screens:
Digital media should be avoided for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months, besides video chatting. Children ages 18 to 24 months learn from watching and interacting with you, so try watching digital media with them. Preschool children aged 2 to 5 may have limited screen use of one hour per day. Watching with them is advantageous because you can re-teach your child the educational things they may have learned on television. If you watched a show that focused on learning the alphabet, you can reiterate that as a dinner conversation with your child.
It can be so tempting to prop up a tablet with your child’s favorite show on it to keep them from crying, but it can not be the only way they learn how to calm down after getting emotional. Children must learn how to handle their emotions, whether it be new activities, deep breaths, etc.
It is okay for your teenagers to be online. Social media actually can help your teen discover more about themselves, but just make sure that they are using it properly. Remind them that just because an app says their information is “private” doesn’t mean that it is really 100% private. Mostly everything that is posted online stays in the digital world forever. Let them know that you are always available if they have questions or concerns about the internet.
For the youngest of children, engaging in back-and-forth talk is critical for their language development. These conversations should be primarily face-to-face, but video chat will suffice if necessary. This back-and-forth conversation improves language much more than one-way interaction with a screen.
Create boundaries for certain situations that do not need to involve screens, such as mealtimes, family or social gatherings, and bedtime. Turn off televisions that aren’t actually being watched so it won’t become a distraction when other tasks need to be done. If your children have their own devices, keep chargers outside of their rooms so they will not be tempted to use them before bed. These changes encourage more family time and better sleep.
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