Given this digital age, parents constantly worry about their children’s screen time use. A lot of activities these days, that are used to be done offline, can now be done conveniently online. Moreover, because of the current situation with the pandemic, there is the increased use of digital devices even for educational purposes.
Let’s face it. Regulating our daily technology intake can be very difficult but in order to make good choices and guarantee healthy habits, we must learn to do it anyway.
Here are six ways parents can instill and model healthy digital habits with the kids and the entire family.
1. Don’t rely on gadgets for your child’s language or cognitive development.
Most parents think that the earlier a child is exposed to media, the better is his/her language skills. They seem to think that if you want to raise “baby Einsteins”, all you need to do is prop your baby in front of a tablet, and your good to go.
THIS IS NOT TRUE.
If you want your child to develop their language or cognitive skills, all you need to do is interact with them. Children learn through interaction, not only with their mom and dad but with other children as well.
2. Encourage more offline activities.
Because of the current online class setup, children are spending more hours in front of their computers or tablets to do school work. As parents, we should encourage the kids to spend their free time outdoors or away from their screens and create more opportunities for offline activities.
I know it’s easier said than done, but if you need to force them to go out, then do it. One better way to do this is to lead by example. If your kid sees that you’re doing it, chances are, they will too.
3. Choose media content wisely.
As much as possible, parents should avoid online videos with fast animation. Instead, try going for videos with real-life characters, like The Sesame Street or Batibot if you’re from the Philippines. Violent video games, particularly those “first-person shooter games” should also be discouraged.
Experts say watching TV is better than spending countless hours staring at your phones. At least when the program is over, you can now turn your TV off.
4. Lead by example.
Because of the pandemic, more and more parents are now working from home. This is a good opportunity to show your kids healthy technology habits that they should follow. Remember that children learn more from what they see rather than what they’re told.
Furthermore, parents who also practice healthy digital habits can benefit from this both physically and mentally. Studies show that people who are exposed to too much media are prone to having depression and anxiety.
5. Talk to kids about the possible dangers of using Social Media.
Most adults have made it a habit to spend time on social media – watching funny videos or chatting with friends. This has become part of our daily routine. So it’s not impossible for our children to develop the same habit, too. But we all know that using social media has its own disadvantages. And as parents, it’s our job to ensure that our kids are safe when using social media.
Children visit social media sites mainly for communication and entertainment purposes. And in recent years, studies show that the number of younger children involved in social media has grown exponentially. This is why parents should be extra vigilant and be aware of the nature of social media sites, especially since not all of them are healthy environments for children.
Using social media poses some risks for our kids. These risks include cyberbullying, sexting, Facebook depression, online predators, and possible exposure to inappropriate content.
But if you decide to allow your kids the use of social media, it would be best to talk to them about expectations – both theirs and yours. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, from your pediatrician or from other parents, especially if you’re struggling to make your way through social media and keep your child safe.
6. Connect with your kids.
Connecting with your kids is probably the most important way to promote healthy digital habits at home. Talk to them using face-to-face communication. Research suggests that young children learn best through serve and return interactions.
Furthermore, find time to talk to them, listen to them, and do activities together without having interruptions from countless text or email messages you need to check. This way, your child will feel that he/she is important enough that you had to put your phones down to listen to them.
Want to learn more about the effects of too much screen time on children? Chick here.