Using Technology With Children in the Correct Dosage

January 3, 2018

Family Screen Time

What an age we live in! Technology advancements are part of our everyday lives affecting the way in which we communicate, learn, work and play. Children are exposed to technology at a very young age and master its use very quickly. As parents, we probably have all used something with a screen to occupy our young children when we need them to sit quietly such as watching a favorite Disney movie on an iPad on a long car trip.

But how much screen time is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages screen time in toddlers under two and recommends between one and two hours of quality programs daily for older children. In an article “More Screen Time and Less Activity Can Mean More Distress,” the AAP reports that “both higher screen time and lower physical activity rates were linked with higher odds of psychological distress, including emotional symptoms, conduct problems and peer relationship problems.”

It is recommended that parents balance their child’s activity with opportunities for social interaction, education and physical activity. iPads and other such tablets are examples of the most interactive technology that young children can use. But children need their parents and caregivers to create balanced opportunities for growth and development in all areas of  life.

What else can parents do to give their children opportunities to learn using technology?

Here are some general guidelines to use when your child is using a tablet, computer or smart phone.

  • Limit screen time. Allow your child to be “plugged in” three to four times per day for 15-30 minutes each session.
  • Use auto lock controls. Use the feature within the device to have the device turn off when your child’s screen time is up.
  • Co-view and co-play. Spend time with your child when he or she is using an electronic device and interact with them and the device.
  • Make it educational. Focus on connecting your child with educational programs and apps.

In the “Tips from Mom, Managing Technology,” blog the author shares from her personal experience as a mom and provides a list of tips for other parents and caregivers.

In another AAP article, “Where We Stand: Screen Time,” steps for developing a personalized media use plan for each child in your family are discussed. Media plans should take into account each child's age, health, personality and developmental stage.

This article was written for the January 2018 edition of Parent Source.