When to Take The Tablet or Smart Phone Away from Your Child

20/01/2017

It’s the technology age, and everywhere you turn there is an eight-year-old with a smart phone or a toddler with a tablet.  And while it is important to embrace the era we live in, when does technology become a crutch?  When is too much TOO much?

What Do the Doctors Say?

I was perusing the internet when I came across this article from tech news world:

“In the past, we only had to be concerned about too much TV exposure. Now we have video games, computers and cell phones. It is overwhelming for young children and creates patterns of behaviors similar to addiction patterns,” said Mali Mann, M.D., adjunct clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.

“Their brains get used to too much auditory and visual stimulation — and in the absence of these stimulations, they do not know what to do with themselves,” she told TechNewsWorld. “They get anxious, restless, bored and aggressive.”

I have been guilty of this myself.  It is easy to pull out your phone in a restaurant and give it to your restless toddler when the food is taking longer than normal – or when you are at a family function and you are catching up with loved ones you haven’t seen for a while.

While some sources say any child under the age of two should have zero screen time, including having the television on for background noise, I am a firm believer in finding a happy medium:  if we live in the technology age, let’s embrace it WITHOUT it becoming a crutch.

Let’s keep in mind there are many educational apps which have helped children grasp maths, English, other languages, colours, morals and much more.  Many schools, such as little Human Scholars preschool, playschool and kindergarten in PJ are even integrating technology within lesson plans.  The difference with Little Human Scholars is they limit the amount of classroom activity with technology AND it is also supervised.  Much of the time allotted during school sessions is allocated to social, physical and mental stimuli without the use to technology.  So how DO we find a happy medium on a day-to-day basis OUTSIDE of school?

Finding a Happy Medium with Children and Technology

  1. Monkey-see-monkey-do.  As a parent, you must be able to disconnect yourself and spend some time AWAY from the television, laptop, tablet and phone.  Whatever you do your children will mimick your behaviour.  If you set aside time to spend with family, friends and loved ones daily, your children will do the same.
  2. Make rough-and-tumble play an important daily activity. Children learn through play and it is crucial for their development.  It helps them develop fine motor skills, problem-solving skills all while burning some of that excess energy children tend to have.  If they are stuck on a screen all day, they don’t get the chance to hone these skills.
  3. Use parental controls. If your child is going to be on the internet, a smart phone or tablet, make sure they are monitored.  There are browsers you can install which keep your child safe from websites that are pornographic or racist in nature.
  4. All day in front of a screen can lead to obesity, poor concentration and limited physical activity. A 2014 study by UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center suggests that when screen time limits face-to-face interaction, kids’ social skills may be negatively affected, and this may blind them from understanding the emotions of other people.
  5. Limit activity to two hours per day for children – this includes television, video games and apps on smart phones and tablets. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not recommend screen time for kids younger than 2.

All-in-all, I am a firm believer in embracing our era in moderation.  Our children have opportunities and technology we, as parents, did not have when we were growing up.  Luckily for those in the Petaling Jaya area, there are schools which implement and integrate technology moderately within their lesson plans while providing ample time for children to learn through play.

Little Human Scholars preschool, playschool, kindergarten and nursery is located in Petaling Jaya near University hospital, PJ Old Town, PJ New Town, Jaya One and Jaya33.  In fact, it is just around the corner for the PJ IT mall.  Whether you are looking for all day daycare, or just a half day of school for your little one, Little Human Scholars can accommodate your needs as a parent.  Simply call +6017 7303-025 to schedule a walk-through now.

Happy parenting!

Jana Moreno

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