#childsafety | How to Balance Your Kids’ Screen Time

Today’s children grow up immersed in digital media. But with COVID and lockdowns, even more so. Family Coach and Certified Parent Educator, Kim DeMarchi offered some tips on how to balance the media monster.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (largest group of pediatricians) (AAP) ; www.aap.org suggests that there are both benefits and risks to the health of children and teenagers. The idea is to find the balance. Click here for more information about Kim.

1.Evidence based Benefits:

-early learning

-exposure to new ideas and knowledge

-increased opportunities for social contact and support

2. Risks:

-Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning. We must teach empathy, conflict resolution, resilience, humor, communication, and social skills

-negative health effects on sleep!

-TURN OFF SCREENS 1 hr. prior to sleep….blue light messes with circadian rhythm and internal clock

-negative effects on attention – more issues with focusing, and learning – the brain is literally developing differently with lots of screen use

-a higher incidence of obesity and depression

-especially girls

-body image issues

-“skinny” filters/apps – presents a falsified self

-cyberbullying (can occur with 100% anonymity: Yik Yak)

definition: sending mean messages or threats online or by text, spreading rumors, stealing account info and sending hurtful messages as that person, posting or texting unflattering photos of someone

-sexting

-definition: involves sending nude and/or sexually explicit images or text messages

-exposure to inaccurate, inappropriate, or unsafe content and contacts

-an average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on tv by age 18

-compromised privacy and confidentiality

-Lack of interaction – at lunch, kids aren’t talking…all on phones; it’s a crutch

-Manage digital footprint!

-definition: the “footprints” or trail that people leave online. It’s personal info available to others

-Things spread like wild fire – can’t change your mind once it’s in cyberspace; don’t assume anything is private or anonymous

-your cell and computer have unique IP address that can be traced

-College Admissions, dream jobs, scholarship offices, fraternities all research applicants

Technology is a giant experiment. We don’t really know all the ramifications yet. Approach with caution!

For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.

There is now a bouncy seat/tablet combo and an ipotty!!!

The AAP recommends parents prioritize creative, unplugged playtime for infants and toddlers. Some media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it’s critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS. Parents of young children should watch media with their child, to help children understand what they are seeing.

For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.

For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. For school-aged children and adolescents, the idea is to balance media use with other healthy behaviors.

Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.

Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

I will also say that the best parental control is to be an active, engaged parent!

As a parent, my best line of defense is myself.

Talking with my kids and communicating about everything related to technology is most important.

But because this is uncharted territory for both parents and children, in most cases, there are Parental Controls on computers/tvs/phones that can be set up.

Then, you can enable the restrictions you want, such as: restricting the use of Safari, or iTunes, or installing apps. You can also prevent access to specific content areas, such as: R rated movies, music with foul language, etc…

You can also buy apps for child safety, apps that email parents if child visited any questionable sights.

There are apps to help with these things such as: Bark, Net Nanny, Limitly, Our Pact, Qustodio, Screentime Labs, Teen Safe, Life 360, Phone Sheriff, My Mobile Watchdog, Screen Retriever, Mobile Spy, and so many others.

Some of this depends on the age of your child, your comfort level as the parent, and your child’s responsibility level.

What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn. The key is mindful use of media within a family. These tech talks might be some of the toughest and most important talks you’ll ever have with your kids, and certainly ones that are on-going.




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