These days, it seems like childhood is drastically different from even a few years ago. Young kids now have access to a whole world of computer technology, including tablets, apps, and games designed especially for them.
If you’re unsure how to manage these new things around your young child, read on for some tips on creating a healthy relationship with technology.
Investigate and research the technology your child encounters
Tablets, apps, and computer games can be a great way to enrich your child’s education. However, sometimes they can also be a loud distraction that offers no benefit other than entertainment. If your child shows interest in a certain form of technology, do the research to find out exactly how it works, what its purpose is, and even what other parents think of it.
Your child’s daycare or preschool is a great place to get information on the latest technology aimed at children, as they have information for educators that you may not. Feel free to ask questions about the technology they use, and even try it out for yourself.
Set limits on screen time
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children over the age of two should have screen time for no more than two hours a day. This definition of “screen time” includes traditional television as well as tablets and computer screens.
Keeping this limit on screen time will show your child that these gadgets are just a small part of everyday life, and not the most important thing. One way to help your child handle the end of screen time is to give him or her something to look forward to afterwards – a trip to the park or a favorite game.
Don’t rely on technology to calm your child
It can seem very tempting to hand your phone or tablet to your toddler to distract them while you’re trying run errands, or calm them before a tantrum starts. However, relying on technology to calm or distract your child shouldn’t be your only strategy. Young children are quickly learning how to identify and deal with emotions, impulses, and boredom. Help them practice other ways to do this that don’t involve technology. For example, you can offer your child a book, or ask them to talk to you about how they’re feeling.
You’re likely very familiar with your child’s ability to observe and mimic things you do or say. Your use of technology is no different. Demonstrate a healthy relationship with technology by having your child see you look at your phone or tablet for a minute and then put it away. This will show your child that technology is not the most important thing in your life.
Technology for preschoolers and young children can be a great way to enhance their learning. However, parents should ensure that apps and games are engaging without being a mindless distraction, and should model healthy behaviors around the use of technology.