Finding a Balance with Technology
Technology has improved our lives in many ways and in this day and age, plays a vital role in our day-to-day activities. When it comes to children, especially, the right amount of exposure to tech can spark an interest in STEM subjects and can also enhance critical thinking and analysis into how the world works. It is important to view the use of technology as an engaging shared experience, rather than a passive activity. Our desire is to support families as they determine how to balance healthy technology usage in their homes while enabling their children to learn through the benefits technology offers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages media exposure for children younger than two years of age maintaining that adult interaction is crucial for infants and toddlers who are beginning to build language skills and require social interaction for proper brain development. (Reid, et al. 2016) It is recommended for children ages two and up, that parents engage in these activities with their children, such as co-watching quality educational programs, or playing an academic game together. In doing so, families can create a shared experience inviting opportunities for discussion, extending learning and growing thought-provoking connections to the real world.
Suggestions for alternative ideas include breaking your child’s screen time into short sessions such as 30 minutes at the beginning of the day and 30 minutes at the end of the day, or allowing one hour per day. Viewing quality educational programs, such as PBS and playing educational games like those found on abcmouse.com (provided to you free by Stepping Stone School) are found to promote language development and teach both academic and social skills. Re-directing your child to a different activity, such as outdoor play can be very helpful as well!
Just as shared screen time is important, spending time being ‘unplugged’ as a family has many benefits as well. Let’s be honest, sometimes it is easier to resort to watching T.V. after a long day. If that is the case, here are some good activities to do as a family instead:
- Make Friday, or Saturday night into a family game night
- Volunteer in the community and have your children help choose the charity or organization.
- Try new recipes. Have your child help you cook dinner. This will encourage them to learn new skills and develop a love for cooking.
- Screen time does not have to be completely eliminated. Choose designated movie nights, but watch them together as a family.
- Cultivate a love for books by reading stories aloud every night.
Maintaining a healthy and positive balance between screen time and screen-free play has been proven to be beneficial to a child’s development. Shared screen time can support children’s relationships with both adults and their peers.
Resources: American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, October 21).“American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use.” Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx