Many parents today have questions about technology and their children. Let’s take a look at a few statistics:
- Back in the 70’s, children didn’t have any screen time or watch TV until age 4; today the average age is 4 months.
- Tweens spend less time outside than prisoners.
- 4 in 5 tweens are on social media by the age of 11.
- 6 in 10 kids aren’t getting enough sleep.
- Commons Sense Media found that 8-12 year old’s use screens for entertainment 4 hours and 44 minutes a day. This does not count as school work or homework.
- 13-18 year olds are on their screens 7 hours, 22 minutes a day for
- Over 70% of kids say they accidentally encountered porn on-line.
If you weren’t concerned before, you probably are now. I think it is important to realize that not ALL screens and video games are bad, but we do have a tendency to let our children play on them for way too long. When children spend too much time on screens, they can become addicted. Video games and screen time can be like digital candy. Dr. Nicholas Kardaras said, “Digital drugs may be even more insidious and problematic than illegal drugs because we don’t have our guard up against them.” But don’t give up! There is still hope! Take a look at these healthy digital media tips for families:
- Do not feel pressured to introduce technology early. Media devices are designed to be intuitive, and children learn quickly.
- Place consistent time limits and hours of media use as well as types of media use.
- Select and co-view media with your child so they can use media to learn, be creative and share these experiences with you and your family.
- Check your children’s media use for health and safety.
- Try to stop using devices and screens at least an hour before bedtime. Do not let your children sleep with their devices.
- Discourage entertainment media while doing homework.
- Plan media free times together such as family dinners and traveling in the car together.
- Decide on media-free, unplugged “zones” such as bedrooms, mealtimes, during play.
- Engage in family activities that do not center around screens and devices such as reading, sports, games, and talking with each other.
- Share your family media rules with caregivers and grandparents to ensure consistency.
- Talk with children about online safety, good “citizenship” …no bullying. Let them know they can share anything with you freely and safely.
- And remember, YOU need to participate in these guidelines as well. Show your children how serious you are by following the rules yourself.
Raising children in a world dominated by media isn’t always easy, but it is doable. Take the time now to think through how you want to handle media with your children. If you feel like things have already gotten away from you, don’t despair. You can hit the reset button! Come back next week to learn more about tech contracts that can help your family have a media safe home.