Technology has been an integral component of our lives and we all seem to use some form of technology to communicate with others and carry out various daily tasks e.g work and phone calls. But, it’s not just adults who actively use technological devices and media--in a 2015 survey conducted by Common Sense Media, it was found that over 53% of the children between 8-12 years old have a tablet and use it on a regular basis and 24% have their own smartphone. With such significant numbers, parents and teachers are often concerned about the proper technology use by children.
If your child is also an avid user of technology, you should ideally aim to strike a balance between its screen time at home (or everywhere else) and other activities, so that your child can benefit from technology and grow on its own without reaching a point of addiction and antisocial behavior. This can be a tad challenging as we personally have grown-up in a more traditional sense back when we were kids e.g reading books and watching telly, but we can achieve that balance by considering a few basics, as suggested by child psychology and media experts.
No 1: Monitor your child’s screen time. While most child experts agree that you shouldn't ban the use of media/technology to your kids entirely, overuse of such technologies e.g smartphone or tablet, according to various studies, can make our children detached, antisocial, and unable to focus on school or home activities.
Kids under 5 years old should also be allowed less screen time than grown-up kids over 6 years old as their brains and systems who are still developing, leave them more exposed to bad content and the physical effects of using technology excessively e.g red eyes. Bigger kids can be allowed a bit more screen time as long as they are aware of the consequences of doing so and what are risks coming from it.
To replace some of their screen time, suggest some kid and family-friendly activities you all enjoy doing e.g baking cookies or playing Monopoly. It is important that your kids realise there are other fun things to do besides spending their time only in front of a screen.
No 2: Lead by example. Many times, kids just copy what adults are doing--and if they see you switching the “on” button of the telly or laptop all the time or whenever you are bored, they are probably going to do the same. If you want your kids to follow and self-control their own screen times, show them what you do yourself and keep any gadgets out of sight when you or your kids have something more important to do e.g homework or house chores.
No 3: Show your kids the importance of real-time and face to face communication. The older generation argues that new media actually downgrade true and direct communication while younger generations believe that it actually enhances it. Experts though, are on the fence about the whole thing. Again, it’s all a matter of balance. Do let your kids communicate with their peers and relatives through social networks, but show them at the same time that spending some real face-to-face time to communicate with others and build meaningful relationships, is just as important. Of course, it would be wise again to lead by example and be active socially in real life as well so your kids can see what you are talking about.
Keep in mind that using technology on its own isn’t bad for your kids, but striking a balance between their screen time and their real life offline can help your children grow without encouraging any signs of addiction and antisocial behavior.