Kids and Electronics – How Much Is Too Much

We now live in an almost entirely digital world. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are just some of the social media sites people use daily. Let’s talk about a very dire subject. Kids and electronics.

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Is it okay to let my kid use electronics?

Some people still cling to the old ways of life, attempting to disconnect themselves for short periods of time in a desperate attempt to achieve some sense of peace in a buzzing and beeping world. With newer generations arising, we find ourselves in a losing battle against technology. It seems completely inescapable and most parents cannot hit the power button. One question parents ask is “Is it okay for my kid to use electronics?”.

Mixed Answers

The answer isn’t exactly crystal clear, however there have been some studies conducted by scientists that cover some ground about kids and electronics. According to Scientific American, children aged 2 and under should not have ANY screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping all screens off around babies and toddlers younger than 18 months. However, the AAP states that toddlers and children 2 and older would be okay with having an hour of screen time daily.

So let’s review.

Ages below 2 – No screen time.

Ages 2 and Up – About an hour per day.

Excessive Use Is Never Good

This sounds more reasonable, right? The hard truth is that many parents are allowing their kids to use electronics excessively, perhaps not by their own will but by being somewhat careless or not thinking about keeping track of their child’s screen time.

Not only does the AAP say that parents should set limits to what their children watch or play during the hours they use their electronics, but they also say that the quality of the apps or videos is important. Scientists and doctors also agree that children and teenagers should not have internet access in their bedrooms. It is just far too difficult to monitor what your child is accessing.

Some Use Is Acceptable

Another study was conducted at Oxford University, and it concluded that children who play video games for an hour a day tend to be more social and satisfied with their lives. At least, that is one positive effect of technology. On the flip side of the study, children who played for more than the hour per day limit seemed to lose all positive effects. Likewise, there were no noticeably negative effects, but still no positives either.

Modeling Healthy Screen Habits

Children learn by example, so it’s essential for parents to model healthy screen habits themselves. Be mindful of how much time you spend on your own devices and the content you consume in front of your children. Demonstrate the importance of balance by engaging in offline activities like reading, playing outside, or spending time with family and friends. Use technology as a communication, learning, and entertainment tool, rather than allowing it to consume your time and attention. By modeling healthy screen habits, you can teach your child the importance of moderation and responsible use of electronics.

Educating Kids About Online Safety

In addition to setting boundaries around screen time, educating children about online safety and the potential risks of the internet is crucial. Teach your child about the importance of protecting their personal information online, such as their name, address, and phone number, and remind them never to share this information with strangers. Discuss the dangers of cyberbullying and how to respond if they encounter hurtful or inappropriate content online. Consider installing parental control software or using built-in safety features on devices to block inappropriate content and monitor your child’s online activity. By empowering your child with knowledge and awareness, you can help them navigate the digital world safely and confidently.

Encouraging Positive Screen Time Activities

While setting limits on screen time is important, not all screen time is created equal. Encourage your child to engage in positive screen time activities that promote learning, creativity, and social interaction. Choose age-appropriate apps, games, and educational programs that align with your child’s interests and encourage active participation rather than passive consumption. Encourage your child to use technology as a tool for exploration and discovery, whether it’s researching a topic of interest, practicing new skills, or creating digital art or music. Focusing on quality over quantity can make screen time a positive and enriching experience for your child.

Kids and Electronics – Exposure At A Young Age

Parents’ main concern regarding their kids and electronics is language development. Will too much screen time somehow hurt my child’s ability to learn a language? Until children are approximately 2 1/2, they do not learn things effectively from watching them on a screen. One study determined that children under 4 years of age who watched television for multiple hours per day did not learn as many words as a child who did not watch television excessively.

Human Interaction Matters

Children need interaction to learn as much as possible. Do your best to connect face-to-face with your child. Remember to monitor what your child is watching or doing online closely. Set up strict rules and regulations for children to abide by. A clear set of rules that are not to be broken. Parents need to take control of their household! While it is obviously, in some sense, impossible to keep technology at bay, we can still control how it is used in our homes.

Did you know that, on average, children are 12 years old when they receive their first mobile device? 56% of children 8-12 own a cellphone. That is the vast majority—well over half of the children in the United States between the ages of 8 and 12 are online with a phone, able to text and conduct online searches. 70% of preteens admit to hiding online activity. As a parent, this is a scary situation.

Luckily, there are many online apps to keep parents in control of their kids and their electronic activity. Setting up parental controls can be tricky, but they are available on almost all electronic devices. Before handing your child a phone, tablet, or new laptop, consider taking the time to set up the parental controls. You can find many safety settings within your popular search engines and operating systems.

Power Off

If you find yourself sitting around horribly concerned about your child using electronics, remember you are the adult. You are in charge, and you can take back your family. While we often use technology, which is even used now in schools and at work, we can power off when necessary to get some much-needed social time with our children and families. Put the tablet away and play with flashcards with your child instead.

Take your children outside or to the park. Interact with them as much as possible. Not only will this have more positive developmental value for your child, but it will also show them that there can be a balance between the technological world and the real physical one outside their window.

Open Communication

It’s important to maintain open communication with your child regarding their use of electronics and their experiences online. Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where your child feels comfortable sharing their concerns, questions, and experiences. Listen carefully to your child’s perspective and acknowledge their feelings, even if you don’t always agree with them. Offer guidance and support when required and be proactive in addressing any issues or concerns that arise. By fostering open communication, you can build trust with your child and encourage them to make safe and responsible choices when using electronics.

Learn How To Divide Time

While the world is growing in technology, there will only be more ways to connect in the future. It is an industry that is booming with no end in sight. Kids and electronics will be exposed to one another. While they are growing and learning it is best to use electronics in moderation. Putting your child in front of a tablet for hours a day or in front of the tv because it is convenient seems like a good idea at the time, but consider the effects it may have on your child.

Take the extra time and effort to have a loving interaction. Your child will appreciate it, and you will build lasting memories of it. If you allow your child screen time each day, try to spend the time with them and make it a learning experience. If it is an educational game or video, reiterate with your child the words and phrases so that they understand the content better; there is no true replacement for social interaction. Point to things and discuss things with your child. If you cannot beat technology, work with it and your child.

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