Limiting Technology for Kids Today
Posted on March 14, 2018 by CHS
Technology has become a daily routine. For many of us, our smartphone is the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing we see before going to sleep. Even young children frequently use a tablet or their parent’s phone instead of engaging with their surroundings. Although there are many videos and games children can access that are educational and beneficial to their development, overuse can lead to children becoming more addicted to technology and less focused on the world around them. Even the technology giants of this generation, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, had strict technology limits for their children because they understood the consequences of media addiction. In a world bombarded with technology, it is up to parents to control their child’s usage in order to avoid an overdependence on technology.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has established the following recommendations on digital and media usage for children.
- Infants 18 months and younger should not have any screen time, except to video chat with family members that live far away.
- From 18 months to 5 years, parents who choose to introduce technology should select apps that are educational and safe for their child. Parents should limit screen time to one hour a day, and use the app together with their child to guide and supervise them. It is advised to avoid appeasing your crying child by offering him electronic devices, to not allow devices in bedrooms and at mealtimes, and to avoid apps that can be distracting or violent.
- From 5 to 18 years, parents should use the tips below to create guidelines for the family to follow.
Set Limits for Media-Free Spaces and Times
Keep one TV in your living room/family room, instead of having TVs in the child’s room, to monitor what your young child watches and limit distractions in his bedroom. By removing the TV from the bedroom, your child can focus more on his school work and get much needed sleep. The light from the screens signals your brain that it is daytime, which can keep your mind stimulated and create difficulties falling asleep. Because videos and shows are easily accessed online through web streaming sites on smartphones and tablets, create a family rule to turn off all technology at least 30 minutes or one hour before bedtime. According to How to Limit Your Kid’s Screen Time, you can also invest in WiFi routers that allow you to control screen time. For example, you can connect your router through mobile apps and stop WiFi access at certain times like dinner or from bedtime till the morning. Note that this function does not stop your actual data access and children can overuse their data if they aren’t careful.
More Face-to-Face Interactions
Some children today are so glued to their smartphones, connecting with friends through texting and social media platforms that they may struggle to interact face-to-face. To create more opportunities for interactions, don’t allow smartphones or any electronic devices at the dinner table and in the morning when everyone is getting ready to leave for school or work. Use these technology-free times to talk with your child, to connect with her, and to encourage skills to socialize in person. When possible, communicate with your child verbally by calling her, rather than texting her. By calling, you engage your child to talk more, and it is the best way to confirm that your child is safe when she is not with you.
Regular exercise supports your child’s overall health, helps your child sleep at night, and keeps your child engaged without electronic devices. Take your child out to the park for a walk or to play sports. There are many public parks available for family activities. Spending quality time together as a family encourages healthy development and family bonding. For more information, read the CHS Family Education Brochures on Exercise and Family Time.
Be Their Example
Be a good example for your child by following the technology guidelines you’ve set for him. Your child will follow your lead.
- Bill Gates is surprisingly strict about his kids' tech use — and it should be a red flag for the rest of us
- Electronic devices, kids and sleep: How screen time keeps them awake
- How to Create a Family Media Plan in English or Spanish from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- How to Limit Your Kid's Screen Time
- The American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Recommendations for Screen Time
- The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise