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Studies show that in recent years children are spending more time behind some sort of digital device than they are in engaging in various forms of play. It is estimated that only 7 percent of children aged between 5 and 11 get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Welcome to the age of the so-called ‘techno tot’ – an era where many children under the age of two have held a mobile phone in their hands. While the importance of technology in our daily lives cannot be denied, many experts recommend that time on such be monitored – especially when it comes to little ones.
Suggestions to consider when it comes to deciding on the amount of screen-time children should be allowed:
TOP-10 TECHIE TIPS
- Set limits. Just as with any other activity you also need to set specific limits to keep your child’s tech usage in check.
- Be informed. Find out what kind of apps your child uses, how they use them and how they access them. This makes it easier for you to keep tabs on your child’s online activity.
- Encourage unplugged playtime. Children need to be active and engaging in various forms of play, so encouraging them to take part in physical activities such as games with friends or digging around in the garden is important too.
- Create a tech-free zone. Make it clear to your children (and the rest of the family) that certain areas in the home are to be tech-free. Ban all mobile devices during mealtimes and family time. Make it clear that children are not allowed to use tablets or phones during certain times of the day.
- Face-to-face is always better. It’s easy to simply place a tablet or phone in your child’s hands to keep them quiet. However, this detracts from learning to deal with their strong emotions.
- Do your homework. While many apps claim to be educational, there’s very little research on the topic. Before allowing your child to use a specific app, read up on it and even try it out yourself.
- Keep tabs. If your child is very young, they shouldn’t use any media device unsupervised.
- Remind them. Make sure your children always understand that the use of media devices is a privilege and not a right.
- Use apps to your advantage. There are a number of ways in which you can further limit your child’s screen time. There are apps that are able to automatically lock the media device after a specific time. Once it’s locked, the child would need to have a pass code to unlock the device. Research the app options out there and make use of them to keep your child safe.
- Keep it public. Ensure you always have eyes on the media device your child is using. Whether it’s TV, computer games, a tablet or phone – try and keep private usage to an absolute minimum.
Sources: psychologytoday.com, Harvard University; Psychology Department