In 2016, expect changes from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) regarding the two-hour per day screen time recommendations for children. The AAP recognizes this policy is outdated. Gone are the days of parents feeling guilty for letting their children watch TV or play on a mobile device. The reality is, children younger than two are playing on their parents’ phones and watching TV, and we should look at this as a learning opportunity for them. This is not to say that children should be constantly engaged with a screen. But how do we grow with the future in a healthy way for kids? Here are 4 tips on how to use technology to enhance our children’s learning experience online.
- Practice what you preach – The best way to get your children to not overindulge in screen time is to limit your own screen time. Your child will be more understanding of why they can’t live in the digital world all day when they see their parents aren’t distracted with technology.
- Parenting is still essential – Whether in the real or virtual world, parenting rules apply. Set screen time limits and take time to spend with your kids. It can be anything from good old-fashioned board games to hide-and-seek. It’s a good idea to know who their online friends are so you are aware of their digital social life.
- Quality of content makes a difference – According to CNN, there are over 80,000 apps within your child’s reach, and not all apps are equal. The amount of time spent in front of a screen has a different value if the app is educational versus recreational. Be aware of where your child spends their time when “visiting” the digital world.
- Set and enforce tech-free zones – Tech-free zones could be the dinner table, a homework desk, or wherever you spend quality time face-to-face time with your kids. Have a table outside your child’s bedroom to charge all electronics while they sleep. These zones will encourage time spent together and better sleeping habits.