How to limit your child’s technology use
Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard-affiliated psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, noted two common parental behaviors that can impact their child’s electronic use – parents constantly pay attention to their own devices at inappropriate times and they fail to establish and enforce rules regarding media usage for their children.
“We know that children do as we do, but not as we say,” says Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Therefore, if parents do not want their children spending too much time with electronic devices, they need to lead by example.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children today spend an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media that can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep, eating disorders and obesity.
“Parents, you can stop this,” says Dr. Roberts. “Putting down the devices will not only help limit your child’s screen time, but will contribute to more face-to-face time with your child.”
To help kids make smart media choices, the AAP recommends the following:
- Monitor their media diet. Be aware of the established ratings for movies, shows or games to avoid inappropriate content.
- To limit screen time at home, keep televisions, computers, or video games out of children’s bedrooms.
- Children and teens should not be exposed to entertainment media for more than two hours per day.
It’s important for kids to make time to play outside, read and use their imaginations in free play, Dr. Roberts says.
“Creating rules and boundaries around electronics for everyone in the household is not only a good strategy for limiting device use, but more importantly, it can create more opportunities for quality parent-child interactions, which are essential to healthy development,” says Dr. Roberts.
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