Picture it: it’s a lazy Sunday. You’re on your phone, your husband is over there on his phone, one kid is lying on your leg with the tablet, the other is playing a game on the computer. Netflix has been mindlessly on for two days straight, and the weekend’s almost done. What is wrong with this picture? Mindless screen time madness. There is an entire family sitting in the same room, having no interactions.
Admit it; we are all guilty of this scenario in one way or another.
Technology is a part of our lives, there is no denying that. You are raising your children in a technological age; they really know nothing else. As parents it is our job to guide them in a direction of balance. Balance between technology and real life. The two are very much interconnected, but there still has to be a balance. Living completely through the internet is no way to live, but living unplugged is not realistic.
This is a parenting peg that is newer to the board. So, of course there are going to be people telling you what is best for your child and if you are doing it wrong.
Push these ideas aside; sit down and have a conversation with your spouse. You can talk about how you want screen time to be incorporated into your family time. Talk about usage, mediums and even time when phones/tablets/computers are appropriate.
Once you have come to some sort of agreement have another sit down, but this time include the children. Let them know about dangers, appropriateness, and times they will be allowed to have screen time. You have the ability to let them feel like they are a part of this decision which can help in the long run. This will all be tailored in different ways depending on the age of your children.
This conversation can happen at a very young age because they are already exposed to media at a very young age. Let them know that your phone is or is not allowed to be touched, or which apps they are allowed to use. You have to set these boundaries to help guide media usage to be a positive experience for the both of you.
Remember to always be with your child during their screen times. This is your job as a parent to give them feedback on what is real and what is not. Give them quality media to interact with. This could mean finding games or apps appropriate for their age and developmental stage.
What the Experts are Saying
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use, except for video-chatting, by children younger than 18 to 24 months. If you want to introduce digital media to children ages 18 to 24 months, make sure it’s high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming. As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as well. You’ll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what types of media are appropriate.
Remember that you are the parent, and all of this is ultimately up to you and yours. Only you know what is best for your children. Take in the suggested information about media, and decide from there what will work for your family. Do not let others make you feel shamed about what you have chosen. By gathering, researching, and processing this information, you have already made yourself more educated on how to make this work for your children.
Early Literacy Leader
Young Scholars Academy