It’s no surprise kids that grew up in the 1990’s would be the last generation to play outside precisely because they did not have mobile devices. They learned from movement, hands-on interaction, and we absorbed information through books and socialization with other humans as opposed some sort of technology. If our current addictions to our iPhones and other tech is any indication, we may be setting up our children for incomplete, handicapped lives devoid of imagination, creativity and wonder when we hook them onto technology at an early age.As a mom of an 8 month old and a full time employee in the technology industry, I found this information very intriguing. I spend much of my time on a laptop and smart phone to access social media and email for both work and personal. My son, even at a very young age will try and grab the device, while his eyes are fixed on the lights and motion. It is definitely hard to figure out what is a respectable amount or age your child should be engaged with technology. Today, most schools (elementary, middle and high) expect homework and assignments to be done via the internet, many even give students iPads. With that being said, you would most likely want your child to have some knowledge of technology so they do not fall behind. A very smart person once told me “this thing called the internet is not going away”. In fact, it is getting faster, we are using more bandwidth and more platforms and apps are popping up daily. Technology is changing, how we raise our children is changing and we as parents need to continue to change and learn with and for our kids. Understand the social media platforms and monitor their accounts and how much time is spent on non educational sites. As a parent, sometimes it’s hard to know how to handle technology in our own lives, yet alone the lives of our children. What are the benefits? What are the costs? When is it too much? There are no easy answers. And no one answer is right for everyone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day. Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences.
Technology Use Guidelines for Children and Youth
Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you comfortable with the amount of time your child spends on electronics?
- Do you understand the capabilities of all the devices your child uses, know how to view past usage and monitor how time with the device is being spent?
- How much of your child’s learning opportunities come from electronics vs. experiential experiences?
- Are other areas of your child’s development (physical, emotional, social) being neglected because of electronic usage?
- Is electronic usage limiting your child’s exploration into other aspects of life?
- Is family time and/or communication interrupted or non-existent because everyone prefers electronic engagement?
- Are you aware of how screen time is affecting your child, is there a marked change in mood, aggressiveness or withdrawal?
- What kind of messages are you sending your child about using electronics?
- If you’re not happy with what you’re seeing, what small steps could you take to manage screen time for your family?
– Written and posted by Jan Cloninger and Rosemary Strembicki
Learning in different ways has helped us become more well-rounded individuals — so, should we be more worried that we are robbing our children of the ability to use technology all day, or should we be more worried that we would be robbing them of a healthier, less dependent development if we do allow them to consistently be connected? Consider not giving kids every fancy device we’ll have while they are growing up. Play outside with them and surround them with nature; they might hate you, but they will absolutely thank you for it later.
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