Forming helpful and happy relationships with technology
Computer screens, ipad screens, television screens, mobile screens – children these days have access to so many types of screens these days! Technology can be educational and fun; however, it is concerning when kids are using technology excessively. it’s important that kids learn how to form healthy and helpful relationships with technology. How should we be thinking about screen time as parents? Here are a few things to ponder.
· If used excessively, screen time can impact our kid’s development. When engaging in screen time, our kids aren’t learning those fundamental social skills – how to engage in conversation, how to read body language and how to play imaginatively. Too much screen time can also impact our kid’s gross motor development. They are not climbing trees, playing on monkey bars and playing chasey when playing on their ipad. This means that they don’t have as many opportunities to develop upper body strength, balance and coordination. Screen time can also impact on a child’s sleep as studies show that as little as 20 minutes of blue light from screens can impact a child’s sleep at night. Make sure that screen time isn’t impacting on your children’s development by providing them with opportunities to be social and engage in outside activities each day. Forming some clear guidelines around how much technology our kids can access each day/week might be helpful.
· When screens are connected to the internet, our kids have access to the whole world. As parents, we need to be making an effort to keep our kids safe online. Perhaps we could make sure that screens are only used in communal areas of the house. Making sure that the games that our kids are playing are age appropriate is also important.
· We all know that getting kids off technology is not easy! Screen time is fun and pleasurable so of course we going to want more of it! Provide kids with cognitive warning before expecting them to stop screen time. For example ‘screen time will finish after this episode/level.’ Also, having an appealing transition activity prepared may help to reduce tech tantrums e.g. riding bikes to park or cooking pancakes.
· We’re all guilty of it, parents enjoy lots of screen time too! Parents are often so anxious about capturing still moments on their phone that they forget to participate in the present moment. We need to ensure that we are actually being fully present. This means putting the phone away and taking the time to enjoy time with our kids without digital distractions. When you are busy on your phone, communicate what you are doing on your screen so that your children understand that technology can be functional and useful. Otherwise they may just think that you are watching exciting videos!
We want our children to develop healthy relationships with technology, and see it as something that can be useful, not just something that we can waste time on! You know your children best so try putting some guidelines in place that will suit your family.
Watch out for some tips of how to manage behaviour around screen time in the next few weeks!