Each generation seems to have its own set of challenges for parents. It was the dawn of rock and roll during the fifties and sixties and the sexual revolution in the next decade. Today’s generation of parents must cope with raising children in the digital age, and that is no easy task.
Screens, Screens, Everywhere A Screen
It is almost impossible to escape from them. Screens of all sizes are in airports, doctor’s offices, sports bars, and on and on. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed guidelines for parents for how much screen time young children should have.
Until a child is 18 months old, avoid screen time entirely.
From 18 months to 2 years old only choose apps and programs like those on PBS and Sesame Street. It is recommended that parents watch programs with their child to answer questions and help them to understand.
Between 2 to 5 years old, limit screen time to 1 hour per day and choose high quality programming or apps.
For children 6 years and older, always set limits on screen time. Never forget the importance of physical activity, sleeping, playing outside, and one-on-one social interactions. Also, never let a child be viewing an electronic screen within an hour of the targeted bedtime.
Concerns Of Excessive Screen Time For Children
Research has shown that excessive screen time for younger children can result in obesity, decreased sleep, delays in language skills, as well as delays in cognition and social development.
As children get older, there are the increasing dangers of cyberbullying, sexting, and online solicitation, making parents even more wary of raising children in the digital age.
Setting guidelines for screen use each day and consistently adhering to these rules will provide some modicum of discipline and safety as your child grows older.
Parental Pearls In The Digital Age
Parents remain the guiding light for their kids, and although many things have changed, today’s parents should always model appropriate behavior. It is your job as a parent to highlight the appropriate way of behaving, but how do you accomplish this task without alienating your kids?
- Nurture kindness and empathy. Discuss cyberbullying and how to respect others online just as you taught them the same values when they were very young.
- Explain digital etiquette and warn them about oversharing. Some online mistakes can never be erased.
- Modify your own use of devices and make time for them. We all need to unplug sometimes.
- Never let a child use devices within an hour of bedtime.
- Above all, watch for red flags. Spending too much time in their room alone, being depressed or withdrawn can indicate a problem. Talk with Pediatric Associates if this becomes an issue.
This is not the world you grew up in, but you can help your children wade through the digital age with a little kindness and understanding.
Contact Pediatric Associates if you have concerns, questions, and need assistance about raising children in the digital age.