Kids are exposed to screens all the time. Over a third of parents (35%) say that they use gadgets to entertain kids, about a quarter (23 %) because they want kids to be tech-savvy. However, in line with unhealthy abuse of gadgets, now the market is full of educational tools that can promote their development from an early age and aid their development.
Thus, in the blog post, we are going to reveal the topic of how to make children use gadgets with the benefit while being cautious to several risks. We have also prepared some useful rules about screen time for kids
No screen time for infants under 18 month
In order to ensure stable brain development and healthy parent-child connections, the exposure to the screen should be banned up to two years old. The noise and the activity of the screen cause distraction, no matter whether a baby is looking directly at the screen or sitting next to parents while they are watching TV. The child will be overstimulated by the lights and sounds and it can cause distress and sleeping problems. So keep little babies away from the screens.
But how much time?
How much time is enough for an older child daily? Not much.
The answer depends on a few factors. At first, productive time should be a priority while entertainment time spent with a screen should be limited. Digital media should never replace healthy activities like social and physical activity. Learning versus entertainment should be balanced as well.
No need to be unfair to digitalization, it can facilitate communication like communication with distant relatives via Skype.
Children are exposed to thousands of apps but parents should be their digital guides. The same how parents teach kids how to behave offline, online culture should be also fostered.
Be aware of risks.
For smaller children, it is necessary to take into account that advertisements on TV are now commonly targeted at small kids, knowing their traits of behavior. Many products, such as sugary cereals and fast-food restaurants, are created specially to attract the attention of children, and parents should explain to kids that it is not a good idea to consume everything they see on media indiscriminately.
More screens always mean more consumption. If sedentary life itself can lead to health problems, the other risk comes from the uncontrolled flow of potentially unhelpful information, especially for small kids.
Do you know that children at the age of two can recognize two-thirds of popular brand logos? It is interesting how even the smallest ones start to become a fan of a brand. You can read more about in a book of Martin Lindstrom “ Brandwashed” if you interested in the topic how marketers target at small kids.
We should distinguish whether the kid is using the gadget for pure fun and non-educational purposes that make them "screen zombies". When children start to view screens very early, it commonly leads to long periods of viewing screens for the rest of their lives.
“Dopamine is produced when we see something that is interesting or new, but it also has a second function. Dopamine is also the neurochemical involved in most addictions – it's the reward chemical.” That is how people become dependent on something. Providing a child with a lot of novelty like gaming may produce higher levels of dopamine in a child's brain, making the child seek more and more screen time to satisfy their need for more dopamine, according to TechAdivisor.
So talking about the balance, nothing should go at the expense of other important aspects of a happy and healthy life of a child like communication with family, pears, exploring the real world and acquiring new knowledge and experience.
Childhood computer gaming
Online life and real life are the same part of a living experience.
Children who are heavy users of apps and gadgets may become adept at multitasking, but they lose the ability to focus on what is most important – that is critical to abstract thinking, problem-solving and deep-thinking because it is hard for them to concentrate.
At first, parents have to talk to kids why they need to use gadgets less and give reasons why they want to limit the time. Yes, kids can and should use digital media but in a healthy way so take a look at those rules we collected for you that can help control their time.
- .Tablets before the bedtime cause sleep disruption due to blue light. Therefore, children should leave their gadgets behind at least 1 hour before they go to bed to avoid sleep problems and consequental fatique. You can read about it more here: Blue light has a dark side
Another good way to control the use of tablets and gadgets is to use only high-quality, age-appropriate media and schedule it.
Include screen-time limits, limits on the kinds of screens they can use, provide them with guidelines on which type of activities they can do like programs they can watch.
- Remember that the danger comes not from the screen itself, but from too much leisure screen time for the non-educational purpose.
- Set rules but don’t be too strict.
Allow kids some freedom and flexibility. Do not allow overtime in front of the screen but see a positive side of it and encourage if a child learns something from it.
- Check access and availability.
Don’t allow TVs, computers or any screen-based device into a child’s bedroom or in every single room. It will be harder later to ask them to remove devices from the bedroom if you won’t set up the rule in the beginning.
- Parental role modeling
It is common when parents are busy enough and overuse the gadgets themselves. Not showing a good example won’t be trustworthy for a kid. Stop using the device and communicate with your child face to face. This will help establish empathy and also set a good example of the child.
Don’t have meals in front of the TV, and don’t keep reaching for your smartphone while in front of the child. What parents do means it looks like it should be acceptable for a child.
An important thing to add: technology is the future and it's worth giving kids an opportunity to investigate the digital world from the early age. But at the same time, technology is a tool for learning, not the end in its own right. Do not see gadgets just as entertaining and follow the rules mentioned above for your kids, and look at them like a kind advice for yourself. If you follow these simple rules about screen time for kids, you will see technology as an advantage of today.