Is playing outside or with toys a rare occurrence in your household? Do your children seem to care about watching shows, texting, or gaming over anything else? The use of electronics like computers, cell phones, and video games barely had to be considered a generation ago, and now electronic devices nearly dominate the childhood years and beyond. Setting boundaries is essential for living in a world full of screens, for yourself and for your children. Are you wondering where to start? Here’s a few quick tips and tricks to get you started!
How are your habits?
Children are imitators, and they pay attention to the words, actions, and attitudes around them — as the parent, you are around them the most, and therefore are their primary example. What does your electronics use look like? Are you consumed with checking your phone or watching Netflix? If your habits are full of screen time, your children are likely to want the same thing. Be intentional about interacting with your children face-to-face, and limiting your screen time like you want them to! If you want them to enjoy technology, but not during dinner, make sure you put your phone down for meal times. If you only want them to watch a certain number of shows per day, try to hold yourself to the same standard. Your lifestyle is the best influencer.
Some children have become so addicted to electronics that children as young as four are being admitted to a “Digital Dextox” program that costs thousands of dollars. Chances are good that your child’s use is not that severe yet, but there are ways to help your child detox at home!
- Set strict usage times for electronics within the home such as no electronics at dinner or for an hour before bed
- Encourage creative play and projects, such as making art at the table or playing games outside
- Sign your family up for volunteer work or sports in your community
Not All Bad
Remember that technology has its advantages! Whether educational or relational, screens have a lot of perks that can go unnoticed with too much usage. A few examples of electronic devices’ advantages are:
- There are a variety of apps that are educational, and can teach children about everything from reading to math
- Technology can help children connect with others of similar interests, and stay connected with friends who may move or change schools
- Television and the internet allow children to experience the world outside of their immediate community, allowing them to learn about other cultures and countries from the safety of home
As with many things in our modern world, electronic devices are not good nor bad, but a tool. Make sure your kids know the value and power of the tools electronic devices give them access to, from apps and educational shows to social media later on.
The PBS Parents website suggests keeping all technology away from children under the age of three, as young children learn best from real-world experiences. After that, allowing use at your discretion can be helpful, and depending on your child’s response to electronic devices and screen time, they may be able to begin learning through apps or shows that are educational. Getting your children started with healthy habits gives them a great head start toward success with and without electronic devices down the road!