As the use of technology and screens increases with young children, we asked Charity Somo from our Developmental Family Therapy Center to share her top 4 tips for ensuring our kids use these devices in a helpful and not harmful manner. See below for her tips and tricks to help parents help guide their child in the healthy use of technology.
1. Make an informed decision about technology.
- Is that technology age appropriate for your child? Having certain technological gadgets can be trendy. However, before investing in a certain technology ask yourself if your child needs that technology and what he/she will do with it.
- Is that app/game/website age appropriate for your child? Children often appear to be digitally advanced. While they can search and find apps and information with ease, they do not know how to judge and evaluate the information. Children need parental guidance to evaluate the online information they consume. Take the time to sit and go over apps/games/information with your children and teach them good decision making on digital activities.
- What is your child doing with the technology? Children can do a lot of cool things with technology. This does not mean parents should leave them to their own devices. Devise a way to monitor your child’s digital activity. Try a family media agreement contract!
- Did you set up the parental controls on the technology?
- Does your child ask for your permission to be on that app/game/website? Parents can use parental controls to help children select non-harmful ways to engage with technology. Since parental controls cannot safe guard all digital activity, make sure your children ask for your permission before they download an app or visit websites.
- How do you engage with your technology? Loving or hating technology are neither good options. Parents should have a healthy appreciation for technology and maintain healthy habits with their own technology. Moderate participation with your child on their apps/games is a healthy way to mentor them on good use of technology. Maintaining your own healthy use of technology sets a good example for your child.
- Do you have family time set aside daily?
- Do you intentionally interact with your child daily? Family time is important to enhance social skills, including communication, conflict management and emotional intelligence. Be intentional to create daily moments when they spend time engaging with their children, this can include dinner, watching TV together, or reading a bedtime story.
Learn more about managing screen time by attending the upcoming workshop, Finding Balance: Screen Time.References | Heitner, D. 2016. Screen wise: Helping kids thrive (and survive) in their digital world. Bibliomotion: New York. Bully Stoppers. Growing up digital: opportunities and challenges for parents. https://slideplayer.com/slide/5679167/
Additional Resources | Common sense media. Select “parents need to know” tab. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/