While there are many great uses for devices, child development experts have found that excessive screen time can slow your child’s brain development. With that being said, screen time isn’t all bad. It just needs to be managed a bit. Know the risks and maximize the rewards with these helpful tips.
Know the Risks
Teaching your child a thing or two about internet safety doesn’t have to be all fearmongering and scare tactics. It’s all about common sense, both on and off the screen. For example, you teach them about stranger danger. Why not apply the same concepts when it comes to their internet use? Also, help them understand that anything they post online should be treated as though anyone can see it and that it could potentially linger forever.
Enforce a Curfew
One of the easiest ways to cut down on screen time is to simply avoid its use at night. Not only does the blue light emitted from technology keep your body from producing the melatonin it needs in order to get quality sleep, but it also stops your body from securing a good circadian rhythm. It also causes eye strain, which can lead to headaches and added stress during the daytime. Keep your devices out of the bedroom and get the sleep you deserve.
Make it Family Time
When it comes to managing device use, one possibility is to make it a family affair. This means only using your devices together as a family. Not only does this help you keep a close eye on what they’re browsing, but it also gives you more opportunities to turn their experiences into learning opportunities. With genuine curiosity, ask questions about what they’re doing and go out of your way to look for anything you can use as a teaching opportunity.
Many experts agree that more than two hours of screen time per day is too much. In fact, it can even hinder their brain development in the long run. One of the wonderful things about smartphones and tablets is that you have total control over their use. Not only can you see exactly how long you spend on the device, but you can also see how much time is spent on each specific app. Spending time on one app far more than the others can quickly drain the life out of your real-world fun, consider putting a limit on how much time can be spent on that particular app or game in the day. That way, you have a clear boundary of what’s okay, so your child can use their time more wisely.
Keep Content Age-Appropriate
It’s now easier than ever for your child to fall into a hole of digital content far outside of what’s right for their age. All it takes is one misstep on YouTube, and next thing you know, they’re using words that you don’t even use yourself. Keep an eye on your child while they’re streaming or consider setting up an account with parental control filters that help sort content by their age range.
Set the Example
Children learn by doing, so be the best example you can be by setting clear expectations on what is healthy device use. Be engaged during family time, and never leave your device on for background noise, especially during mealtime. Instead of plugging in during downtime, go for a family walk instead. You can even try charging your devices downstairs to show your kids that it really is possible to wind down for bedtime without the help of a screen. Of course, technology is helpful in many ways. But at the end of the day, the best thing you can do is limit its use and encourage your child to explore the real world.