Technology Guidelines for Parents
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, youth between the ages of 8 and 18, spend almost 8 hours a day using media outside of school. Much research has been done on this subject, and unfortunately, there are a lot of consequences that can result from too much screen time, including:
- Inability to accurately read other people’s emotions
- Lower scores on standardized tests
- Sleep deprivation
- Aggressive and less sympathetic towards others
- Depression and anxiety
Parents find it difficult to find the right balance in our new digital world. Technology is so integrated into our daily lives, it is difficult to avoid. Yet, we know that too much technology has negative effects on our children. Fortunately, the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed some guidelines for parents. They are encouraging parents to be flexible, allowing screen time in moderation.
The following tips for technology guidelines are directly from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Parenting has not changed. The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and technological environments.
- Spend time with your teen.
- Set limits; youth need and expect them.
- Teach kindness.
- Be involved.
- Know your teen’s friends, both online and offline, and know where they are going with them, both on the web and in person.
- Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using and where they are going on the web.
- Teach them the dangers of strangers and of sharing too much information publicly.
- Role modeling is critical. Limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Teach and model kindness and good manners online. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.
- Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research validates their quality. Look to organizations like Common Sense Media that review age-appropriate apps, games and programs.
- Co-engagement counts. Family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. Play a video game with your kids. Your perspective influences how your children understand their media experience.
- Set limits. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Does your child’s technology use help or hinder participation in other activities? Remember that unstructured and offline play stimulates creativity.
- It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are part of typical adolescent development. Social media can support teens as they explore and discover more about themselves and their place in the grown-up world. Just be sure your teen is behaving appropriately in both the real and online worlds. Ask teens to demonstrate what they are doing online to help you understand both content and context. Many teens need to be reminded that a platform’s privacy settings do not make things actually “private” and that images, thoughts, and behaviors teens share online will instantly become a part of their digital footprint indefinitely. Keep lines of communication open and let them know you’re there if they have questions or concerns.
- Create tech-free zones. Keep family mealtimes and other family and social gatherings tech-free. Recharge devices overnight—outside your child’s bedroom – to help children avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These actions encourage family time, healthier eating habits and better sleep.
- Kids will make mistakes using media. These can be teachable moments if handled with empathy. Certain aberrations, however, such as sexting or posting self-harm images, signal a need to assess youth for other risk-taking behaviors.