A mobile device is like magic – it occupies your children and buys you time. But do you ever wonder how much screen time is too much?
Many parents are unsure about ‘how much time is too much screen time’ and so when handing over the device, they do so with a looking-over-the-shoulder trepidation! Yet a mobile device is like magic – for parents it’s the miracle ‘time creator’! When your toddler is left with a device, not only is it clean play (without Lego or playdoh or flour or paint spread all over the floor and walls), it’s also quiet time for you to get on with what you need to do – unpack the groceries, hang the washing and prepare dinner!
The problem is when it’s time to pry the device away from them. That is the moment. That is the moment your little darling turns into this kid monster! It is this moment where so many parents feel shell-shocked as they are met with tears, screams, squeals and tempers. Separating their child from the device gains a far greater response than separating them from you!
We must seriously consider the power of the bond between a child and a device when such a tool can pacify a toddler for hours … and a cry is expressed only in the moment when this bond is broken! Oh my gosh – were they on too long?! What have I done?! Should I feel bad? What am I supposed to do?
1. If you are unsure about screen time consider this, if you are able to provide them with another activity – then do the other activity.
Whilst there are many parents who believe that the benefits of device usage outweigh the potential harm – there are still many parents who are still quite undecided on benefit versus harm. Smartphone technology is new and there is still so much that is unknown … it may only be when your kids have grown that all will be revealed about the good, bad and ugly of youngsters using devices. So, until then – err on the side of caution. There are tons of activities that we know are absolutely fantastic for child development because there are generations upon generations who have engaged in those activities – tried and tested.
2. If you are concerned that your child will be left behind, don’t be!
In this technical world, you want your child to be ‘technologically savvy’ and not be ‘left behind’ (as sometimes you feel you are!). However, when you think about it – do you need to teach your kids how to use a device or does it just sort of “come to them naturally”. Somehow they know where to swipe, tap and which buttons to press.
Developers develop devices so that they are easy for us to use! Your child will be okay – they will pick it up, no problem! And they have many years to do so – when they are 30 they will probably no longer be playing with their Lego, but they will be on their device. So whilst children are children let them be so and do children things!
3. If you want your kid to be a ‘tech whizz’ – excellent! Now make certain they are using their device to learn development skills, rather than just being just a common average every day ‘user’.
Yes! There is a difference. A user uses the technology that the developer develops. In most cases users will be quite ignorant on the development process. They won’t know how it all works. They just know how to press a button on a screen – they don’t know what happens ‘behind the scenes’ to make it work. Many users are technologically not very good – all they know is how to push buttons. They don’t understand where the information goes, how one piece of information relates to another, or how algorithms process in the background to give you the next result.
Developers are not left behind, users are. So, if you want your child to be technologically savvy, reduce their time as a user and increase their time as a developer!
4. If your child is a ‘creative genius’ – ensure they practice the actual skill, not a virtual one.
There are so many positive aspects to devices and what they have to offer and nurturing creativity is one such aspect. The problem is however that, on a device, anyone can do a pretty good job of drawing, building, designing, photography, editing, music, etc. With a click of a button your child is playing Mozart – incredible! All those amazing apps come with these built in smarts that let your kid be amazing! Whatever is behind the button is doing the work – not your child. So if you think your child is a budding musician, builder, artist, designer – make sure they are practicing that skill in real life with real tools – a real pencil drawing real pictures on real paper is where kids will really bring to ‘life’ their artistic talent. This is time well spent. When young people practice their skills and cultivate their interests through effort they learn how to try and how, through effort, they can be better.
5. Stop asking the wrong question of: “how much screen time is too much screen time?”
Sure, quantity of time spent on a device can definitely be an issue – however it is not the only issue. Other questions to ask is around where the device is used, with whom, what they are doing on it and so forth. For example, 55% of parents with a tablet used it to entertain their children under 12 years old while travelling. The question in this context is – is this the best use of their time or could we play “I spy” instead? 41% of parents used a tablet to entertain their children at a restaurant – again, this is a question of context. Instead of learning how to enjoy a moment with their family, we are not giving them an appreciation of the context.
Here are 10 other questions for you to ask instead:
1. Are there any needs that they are trying to get fulfilled online that would be better filled offline with real life connections, in a more real context?
2. What content is positive/ negative for them to access?
3. What are my usage habits that I am modelling for my children and are these having a positive or negative influence?
4. What online connections are positive/ negative for them to have?
5. How should they behave online – what conduct is positive/ negative?
6. Given their developmental age, what can they deal with – physically, emotionally, cognitively – on their device?
7. Where are positive / negative places for them to use a device?
8. When are positive / negative times for them to use a device?
9. How do I know when a device is affecting them positively / negatively?
10. In what context do we as a family agree with device usage?
There exists a gap between what parents ‘think they know’ and what they actually know! It is in this gap where many children find themselves. After many hours of research, this report is made available to you FREE OF CHARGE– because every parent MUST read it! You will discover 6 THOUGHT PROVOKING INSIGHTS into how device usage is impacting children and parents – everyday single day.