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Children and Electronic Devices: How Much is Too Much? - Part II

Since the publication of Part I of this series, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised their position on “screen time”.  While they will be making official revisions in 2016,  the upshot is that we should not to focus on the AMOUNT of time, but to look more at the CONTENT. In addition, they advise moderation and caution.  For example, while many apps call themselves “educational”, not all are, and they advise that parents research fully the apps that say they are educational.  AAP recommends looking up apps on common sense media.  Despite the modification in their original stance, they still recommend that engagement between parent and child is critical to their development.

An Age by Age Guide

Part II: Kindergarten and Elementary Years

Since the publication of Part I of this series, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised their position on “screen time”.  While they will be making official revisions in 2016,  the upshot is that we should not to focus on the AMOUNT of time, but to look more at the CONTENT. In addition, they advise moderation and caution.  For example, while many apps call themselves “educational”, not all are, and they advise that parents research fully the apps that say they are educational.  AAP recommends looking up apps on common sense media.  Despite the modification in their original stance, they still recommend that engagement between parent and child is critical to their development.

kindergartener using ipad

Overall, AAP encourages being mindful of how much screen time you and your child use, and to consider “swapping” tech activities for those that allow more face to face interaction.  This may be playing board games, puzzles, walks, imaginative play, etc. instead of TV or computer. There are other obvious ways to cut back on screen time too:

a) do not allow children to watch tv or use computer at the table during meal times or homework time.

b) do not allow children to have TV/computers in their bedrooms. Keep them in the common areas of your home so that you can watch/play together and you can monitor content.

c) do not allow computers, TV, etc to stay on as “background” noise.

d) consider family challenges every now and then of “no screen time for the day” etc.  See what effect it has on your family.

While this softened approach may be beneficial to some, others will still need to make stronger changes. It cannot be denied that increased screen time has contributed to childhood obesity.  Excessive use can impact attention span, social relationships, and sleep. 

Meanwhile, at some point during the elementary years, children may become more exposed to social media as well.  MOST social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. require students to be at least 13 years old to sign up. However, there is no real way to monitor this.  This means that parents will need to continuously supervise their children closely in terms of their on line activities.  Often children are introduced to social media in the classroom, and there are multiple ways that this can be done in a safe way. For example, if one reads educational articles, one can see that classrooms may conduct research and share it with other classes on Twitter or a blog.  Clearly, there is value in that. Yet, that is often NOT the extent of the elementary aged student’s exposure to social media.  Many are on multiple social media sites because their parents post them doing something.  Thus, they are regularly exposed and curious about their own accounts.  This is the time to talk about family expectations and rules as well as safety practices that you feel are helpful and needed in your own family.  Talk to other families, teachers, school counselors, police officers, etc. to get ideas.  Each family is different because children’s needs are different within the same and other families.  Overall, caution and lots of supervision is the best motto during the elementary years. 

 

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