Tots and Technology: 12 Suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Just about everyone knows that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two years of age. But what about for older children? How do you keep your kids’ faces from being permanently lit by the glow of a screen? These twelve suggestions from the same organization will give your family some guidance, or at least, food for discussion.


1) “Media is just another environment.”

Each environment your kids experience comes with risks and benefits. A playground, for example, provides healthful physical exercise as well as the possibility of bruises and scrapes. Just like any other environment, we need to consider how to best maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. Online, that could mean encouraging intellectually stimulating activities and using pornography-blocking technology.


2) “Parenting has not changed.”

The statement from the AAP sums the issue up best: “The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and virtual environments. Play with them. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Teach kindness. Be involved. Know their friends and where they are going with them.”


3) “Role modeling is critical.” 


Kids are the epitome of monkey-see, monkey do. What you, the parent does, they will copy. If you want your kids to be balanced in their technological habits and pursue intellectual activities, playing Candy Crush on your phone every time you get the chance will not aid you in that goal. They will remember and consider your actions as much as your rules.


4) “We learn from each other.” 

Children learn best from back and forth exchanges. A video presentation does not respond to your child’s cues, and so lacks a crucial component. However, the technology is not necessarily at fault. A video call with Grandma can provide that two-way experience. As the AAP explained, “The more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they hold.”


5) “Content matters.”

When it comes to screen time, quantity is important, but quality is far more so. Teach your family to focus on online activities that will enrich their quality of life.


6)  “Curation helps.”

Many apps claim to be educational and kid-friendly, but few actually are. Review an app yourself and consult resources like Common Sense Media before assuming that the app is appropriate and worthwhile.


7) “Co-engagement counts.”

For a teen, playing a video game alone is different than playing with a family member or friend. A toddler’s experience with an app or tv show is much different when a parent watches and narrates. In each case, the interaction adds another dimension to the technological experience that makes it more enriching and more meaningful.


8) “Playtime is important.”

Your children should have unstructured time both on and offline. Playing facilitates young children’s mental and emotional development and allows them to emotionally process the events of their lives. Playtime also prepares children to be balance work and recreation in their future lives.


9) “Set limits.”

Some parents set thoughtful boundaries in every aspect of their children’s lives but fail to set limits for technology. Your family should have rules in this area just as in any other area. They will vary according to your family’s specific needs, but many families have rules about using technology in bedrooms or at the dinner table, length of time spent online, and a curfew for online activity.


10) “It’s OK for your teen to be online.”

Some parents are so fearful of the potential dangers of the internet that they try to prevent their teenagers from getting online. While some younger teenagers might not be ready to use the internet responsibly, parents who keep their teenagers off the internet are missing the opportunity to teach them online street smarts. Once your children have left home, it is too late to monitor their internet activity and help them learn to use technology wisely.


11) “Create tech-free zones.”

Part of teaching children to use technology is teaching them how to turn it off. Designating tech-free zones and times will help promote physical fitness, prevent technological dependency, and will remind your family that there is more to life than screens.


12) “Kids will be kids.”

Part of growing up is making mistakes. Parents should guide their children to make wise choices online but should not be overly upset when their children mess up. Setting appropriate limits and monitoring their internet activity should prevent any major missteps and keep any mistakes from going too far.


To read the original article at Forbes, click here!


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