We now live in an almost entirely digital world. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are just some of the social media sites that people use every day. 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 find themselves unable to hit the power button. One question parents do find themselves asking is “Is it okay for my kid to use electronics?”.
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 age 2 and under should not have ANY screen time at all. 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 having an hour of screen time per day.
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 of it is that many parents are allowing for their kids to use electronics excessively. Perhaps not by their own will, but by being somewhat careless or not thinking to keep 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 in the hour that they use their electronics, but they say that the quality of the apps or videos is important as well. Scientists and doctors also agree that children/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, this study 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 caused by 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.
Kids and Electronics – Exposure At A Young Age
One main concern that parents have regarding their kids and electronics is language development. Will too much screen time somehow hurt my child’s ability to learn language? Until children are approximately 2 1/2 they do not learn things effectively from watching them on a screen. One study that was conducted 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 in order to learn as much as possible. Do your best to connect face to face with your child. Remember to keep a close monitor on what your child is watching or doing online. 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 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 come 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.
If you find yourself sitting around horribly concerned about your child using electronics remember that you are the adult. You are in charge, and you can take back your family. While we often have use for technology and it is even used now in schools and at work, we are able to 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 it have more positive development value to 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.
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 for loving interaction. Your child will appreciate it and you will build lasting memories in the process. 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 education 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.
Update: I realize due to Covid that many kids of all ages are forced to use laptops and tablets for school purposes. Allow for regular breaks when possible and do you best to maintain a healthy online and offline balance for your children.
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Sources for facts/info