Children today are born in a world where technology plays a vital role in people’s lives. Technology has improved business, education, entertainment, and healthcare, among others and innovation will continue to aid people in living and working more efficiently and productively. With this, the children will grow with knowledge about computers, TV, smartphones, and the Internet.
Based on a report from the Erikson Institute, the average age of children exposed to the use of technology is 6 years old. This involves television, smartphones, tablets, and computers. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a child spends 8 hours a day just watching electronic screens. In fact, 85% of parents worldwide just allow their children to use technology.
As a parent in this digital age, it is your primary responsibility to guide your children in using technology. In fairness, technology has certain benefits in the growth and development of children, especially in their learning. However, too much can be bad. It may cause impaired learning, sleep deprivation, decreased social interaction, addiction, obesity, and other illnesses.
What can we do as parents?
To help you, consider these 15 simple ways in regulating your children’s use of technology:
Let Them Learn New Things
To keep them busy, support your children in learning new things. If you think your children have potential in singing, enroll them in music classes. If they have passion in dancing, then send them to a dance school. It is important that children develop their skills and talents through action-based learning, where they can also socialize with other peers. Just do not force them to do what they don’t like.
Engage Them in Physical Activities
When children are addicted to gadgets, their lifestyle becomes sedentary, which may lead to obesity and may increase their risk to different illnesses. Thus, it is important that you encourage your children to have an active lifestyle by engaging in school physical activities or introducing them to sports. Sports offer many health benefits to children, including the development of self-esteem and stronger relationship with other people.
Set a Limit on Gadget Use
Do not prohibit your children from using gadgets, however, you can set a limit on their allowable time of use. According to research, it is best to limit your children’s screen time up to two hours only. It is also advised to give your children a schedule which states what time or day your children are allowed to access technology.
Make Sure They Sleep on Time
Sleep deprivation is one of the major negative effects of using technology. Computers and mobile gadgets emit radiation and bright lights that may suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us sleep. Thus, make sure that children go to their bed as early as 9 in the evening. Also, do not make accessible any gadget within their reach.
Always Communicate With Them
Make it a habit to communicate with them. It is very important in their development. One of the reasons why children resort to using gadgets because they have no one to talk to. Thus, make them find happiness in sharing knowledge and stories.
Teach Them the 20-20-20 Rule
This is very important not just for children but for everyone. Eye doctors suggest people to practice the 20-20-20 rule every time they use computers, gadgets, and smartphones, among others. This means that the user should take a break every 20 minutes, and focus on an object that is 20-feet away for 20 seconds. This can help your eyes relax and retain moisture from staring at screens for a long period of time.
Explain Them the Consequences
Part of communicating to them is being frank with them about the consequences of excessive use of technology. Tell them about the damaging side effects of using smartphones, tablets, gadgets, and computers. However, make sure that you stick to the fact. Do not exaggerate everything. Be mindful of the way you explain to your children.
Reward Your Children
Children love rewards. You can take advantage of this every time your children follows the schedule you set them with regards to technology use. Promise them to bring them to movies or buy the book she wants if they follow the “2-hour tablet-use policy” or any rules you set.
Gadgets are not “Babysitters”
Most parents right now rely on gadgets to comfort their children especially when they are crying or when they feel hungry. This is so wrong on so many levels. With this practice, parents are teaching their children that technology is the only solution. It is your primary role as a parent to teach them how to react to certain emotions. If they are bored, tell them to meet with friends. If they are tensed, calm them down through proper breathing.
Monitor their Online Activities
The advantage of computers and gadgets is that children can easily access information and research. On the other hand, it could also be a disadvantage as the internet does not have a limit on the content it provides to your children. They can access sex or violent content which are harmful to their development. You can purchase blockers or integrate their browsers with content filtering features to block access to any site or content that are not healthy for them.
Use Gadgets in Good Lighting
The use of gadgets under poor lighting may damage your eye nerves which may develop to serious vision problems. Thus, tell your children to use gadgets under natural lighting. Also, ask them to activate the brightness’ auto-mode which automatically sets the brightness of the phone, suitable for the lighting condition in the external environment.
Observe “Tech-Free” Zones
Designate areas or portions in your home as “tech-free” zones in which they are not allowed to use any gadgets or even access the internet. This will allow them to develop self-control preventing them from gadget addiction.
We hope that these tips help you in managing your children’s use of technology.