Kids & Tech: Tips for Parents in the Digital Age from the AAP

Kids & Tech: Tips for Parents in the Digital Age from the AAP

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help parents manage the digital side of raising children:

• Treat media as you would any other environment in your child’s life. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Know your children’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using, where they are going on the web, and what they are doing online.
• Set limits and encourage playtime. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Make unplugged playtime a daily priority, especially for very young children. And—don’t forget to join your children in unplugged play whenever you’re able. Screen time should be limited to 2 hours or less daily.
• Be a good role model. Teach and model kindness and good manners online. And, because children are great mimics, limit your own media use. In fact, you’ll be more available for and connected with your children if you’re interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than simply staring at a screen.
• Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth “talk time” is critical for language development.
• Create tech-free zones. Keep family mealtimes and other family and social gatherings tech-free. Ban electronics from the bedroom.  Evidence is clear that electronics in the bedroom are linked to obesity, poor sleep and worsening depression.  Recharge devices overnight in a family charging station away from bedrooms to help children avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These changes encourage more family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep, all critical for children’s wellness.
• Apps for kids – do your homework. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research has demonstrated their actual quality. Products pitched as “interactive” should require more than “pushing and swiping.” Look to organizations like Common Sense Media for reviews about age-appropriate apps, games, and programs to guide you in making the best choices for your children.
• It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are part of typical adolescent development. Just be sure your teen is behaving appropriately in both the real and online worlds. 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.
• Remember: Kids will be kids. Kids will make mistakes using media. Try to handle errors with empathy and turn a mistake into a teachable moment. But some indiscretions, such as sexting, bullying, or posting self-harm images, may be a red flag that hints at trouble ahead. Parents should take a closer look at your child’s behaviors and, if needed, enlist supportive professional help, including from your pediatrician.

For more information please visit: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Tips-for-Parents-Digital-Age.aspx

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