Our children are born in a world where television shows can be watched any time they want on multiple devices around the house. Tablets, computers, & smartphones are accessible to even the most economically challenged families. The overwhelming options can be difficult for parents to navigate as they raise their family. Risks of too much media & technology use include negative health effects on weight & sleep, exposure to content that is inappropriate & issues of confidentiality.

According to the American Association for Pediatrics, families should avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months. For children ages 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programming & use media together with your child. Avoid solo media use in this age group. For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, Watch with your children, help children understand what they are seeing, & help them apply what they learn to the world around them.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that parents try to:

Older Children & Adolescents

This age group needs our guidance & support as they encounter technology in school & socially as well. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends the following for parents:

Practice What You Preach!

Children learn from their parents & adults around them. They view our behavior & want to copy it from the very beginning. Put your phone down & interact with your child by playing a game, creating an obstacle course or just reading a book together. When they see you on your phone excessively, you aren’t paying attention to them. This sends the message that they aren’t as important as your phone. Of course, there are times when you need to make a call or text someone, so communicate this to them through words & actions. Say, “I just need to text your grandma to pick up milk on her way home.” Then put the phone down.

Try This!

Have Camera & Telephone ONLY days – announce that you will only be using your phone to make calls & take photos. You & any others in the house with a phone will not be able to text, check email or use your phone to play games.

Keep in mind that not ALL technology is BAD:

INFORMATION – Alexa & Siri are our new versions of the encyclopedia. Ask them & you will get an answer for just about anything you want to know.

COMMUNICATION – Video Chat, Texting & Social Media helps us stay in touch with friends & family both near & far

ORGANIZATION - Calendar applications, bill pay & other apps make it easier to keep track of finances & appointments.

Establish Boundaries Early – Develop a Family Media Use Plan using the website www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan

By: Laura L. Bisceglia, MA.Ed, SBL