TELEMENTAL HEALTH IS AVAILABLE.

Nearly all parents at some point will have a conversation with their children about technology use. This may be in the context of video games, social media, screen use time, responsible Internet use, or any other category. Parents often struggle to figure out how to navigate these conversations with their children, and what guidelines they should enforce. The blog today is about some of the current research and guidelines set out by psychologists, and what the data says in this area.

“94 percent of parents say they take at least one action to manage their child’s technology usage during the school year. Yet despite the effort, 48 percent say that regulating their child’s screen time is a constant battle” (APA.org).

 

In the broadest sense, any technology use could be categorized as ‘screen time’. The American Academy of Pediatrics outlined these recommendations for any screen/media based on age:
• For children under 18 months, avoid screen-based media except video chatting.
• For children 18 months to 24 months, parents should choose high-quality programming and watch with their children.
• For children 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour per day of high-quality programming.
• For children 6 and up, establish consistent limits on the time spent using media and the types of media.
Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.

“94 percent of parents say they take at least one action to manage their child’s technology usage during the school year. Yet despite the effort, 48 percent say that regulating their child’s screen time is a constant battle”… Click To Tweet

While these recommendations can be helpful, these screen-time limits may not provide enough guidance for parents. What can be helpful is to engage in a dialogue around some of the following topics with your family.
• Teach children about technology – It’s important to discuss online privacy, respecting personal information, and the various ways technology can be used both for fun and for work.
• Explore what your child gets from technology – maybe it’s connection with friends, maybe it’s a way for them to relax after a grueling day of school, maybe it’s a way of avoiding uncomfortable emotions. By learning what may be driving your child’s technology use, you can better understand the impact it may have on their life.
• Use good judgment – Technology shouldn’t be used as a 24/7 babysitter. Technology use isn’t inherently problematic, but if we’re throwing technology at our children every time they throw a tantrum, we’re just reinforcing the problematic behavior.
Set clear guidelines – Tell your children how long they can use technology for, at what hours of the day, and what you may or may not be okay with (violent video games, chatting with other people). Setting expectations at the beginning helps establish a sense of consistency for your children, and you can even use extra screen time as a reward for effective behavior – e.g. your kid could earn an extra 20 minutes of screen time if he does the dishes!
• Keep bedtime sacred – Screen use has been shown to impact sleep quality, so it may be helpful to cut off screen time at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

 

While this isn’t meant as a comprehensive list of talking points, hopefully these areas will help inspire a conversation and additional thoughts you have around what type of parent you want to be within the context of technology.

 

 

Source: Digital Guidelines: Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Children – http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/digital-guidelines.aspx

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