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Navigating Technology

Navigating Technology

Over the last 10 years, technology has become a popular topic and part of life. Many parents and educators are wondering how to handle technology and what boundaries to put in place.  There is an increasing amount of anxiety on how to navigate the new technological world. They want to know what is considered a healthy limit and what is “too much.” Below is a list of tips to feel encouraged and get you started!

According to research by Child Mind Institute, children between the ages of 0- 5 years are highly encouraged to avoid technology. Technology is anything that is digital, such as: cell phones, television, computer, iPad, video games, tablets, etc. Professionals agree that it is important to prioritize connection and engagement on a personal level at such critical points in development (ex: play time). However, a minimal exposure to technology during this age is not the “end of the world.” If technology is included into the household during this critical developmental period, it is recommended that exposure is limited to an hour or less of high-quality programming. This could include educational shows that encourage creativity, learning and sensory engagement. Furthermore, it is important to have a parent or educator with the child during this time to help with connection and growth.

Once children enter elementary school, they will be exposed to more technology and it can be hard to understand how to create balance. Many children are already using technology in school, making it a confusing road to manage. Research recommends limiting children between the ages of 5-11 to 2 hours of technology a day. This does not include screen time for school related activities. However, it is important to create clear limits and conversations about what is okay to use and watch and what is not. Other research states that exercise and sleep are prioritized first before technology limits are in place. For example, parents are encouraged to have children play or move around for an hour and get an adequate amount of sleep before using technology. Below are some other examples and tips on ways to approach the boundaries of technology:

  • Watch technology together: Instead of allowing your child to go upstairs and watch tv or play on their electronics, try engaging with them in a game or a movie together. This can increase connection and warmth in the home. Do your best to avoid using technology as a “babysitter.”
  • Designate “media- free” spaces: Create boundaries on where and when technology can be used. Keeping it off limits in the bedroom and at the kitchen table are common examples. Having these boundaries and enforcing them from a young age teaches youth to be healthy media consumers.
  • Use discernment: Make sure the content your child is watching is monitored. It is recommended for children to view age-appropriate information that engages imagination and has the values your household shares.
  • Communicate: Communicate limits and expectations of technology, as well as the consequences for breaking the limits beforehand. Furthermore, if there are specific shows or games you do not want your children watching; refrain from just saying “it is bad” and have a conversation about why it will not be used.

Technology is ever growing and ever changing. It is important to understand how to have conversations and set boundaries to navigate it well. Remember that technology is an amazing tool that can connect people to resources and community if used appropriately!