THE BEST WAYS TO BALANCE TECHNOLOGY FOR KIDS
Our children are growing up in a world that is embedded with unlimited accessible technology and media. As much as we try to provide them with a childhood like ours, full of actual books and endless afternoons spent playing outdoors, we cannot deny the rapidly evolving presence of gadgets and screens in their lives. Even their education is now reliant on technology. We are all trying to keep up with all the new applications and content and devices that are constantly being introduced to their lives. It is an alarming feeling we all have as parents when we look around and see our kids’ eyes glued to their screens. Nonetheless, no one can deny the benefits of technology in our children’s education, especially after distance learning due to the recent pandemic. Finding the right balance between screen time and leading a normal life is imperative to their wellbeing. Boundaries must be set to ensure our kids grow up with the semblance of a normal childhood. Here are some tips to help parents navigate the new world of ed-tech and gaming universe.
- Limit your own technology use around your kids: Kids are watching their parents using their phones most of the time, be it for work or scheduling activities or ordering groceries. Our kids adopt our behaviors and we must be aware of our own screen time and demonstrate that there are specific times when we use technology.
- Steer them the right way: Encourage your children to use the right apps that contribute to their development and enhance their skills, such as engaging and fun language learning apps that can teach them a second language at home or support their language learning at school. Look for apps that are reward-based and offer a gamified experience that will excite the kids to use them during their screen time.
- Set time limits and talk about boundaries: Set limits for what types of technology are used on school days versus weekends and for how long. Make sure kids are not staring at their screens before bed time. Talk to them about their technology needs for school and social life and set the rules together so everyone is comfortable. Encourage openness and honesty about what they share through online platforms and how it affects them and others. Remind them of the importance of compassion and kindness, both offline and online.
- Encourage activities without any gadgets: Schedule family outings, picnics, outdoors hikes or any type of activity where no one uses technology. Let your kids enjoy nature and experience the beauty of fresh air and being present with their loved ones as much as possible. Encourage conversations about their lives and friends and interests. The more time they spend talking to their family members and friends in real life, the less time they have to spend on their screens. Another beneficial tip is to enforce a rule of no screens during all family meals. Consuming food while looking at screens creates unhealthy eating habits and is a major culprit for obesity.
- Monitor the content: You can find anything on the internet, the good and the bad. Kids are accessing inappropriate images and videos these days at an alarming rate. It is vital that parents turn on parental controls and limit the use of technology in bedrooms when the children are alone. Encourage use of all gadgets in the open around the house so you can make sure the content is suitable for their age. Place automatic time limits and restrict access to certain sites.
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