Essential Steps to Safe Screen Use for Kids.
STEP 1: QUESTION, OBSERVE, AND ASSESS
Do you find yourself getting caught up in constant battles over screens? Is it hard to get your kids off those tablets or video games when you ask them to? Do you find your kids are obsessed with their electronics? Botch their homework to get back to that Minecraft as soon as possible?
Have you caught them lying or sneaking around to get access to their screens? Do your kids wake up tired and exhausted from being up until 2 am chatting with their friends on text or any social media? Are you starting to notice them withdrawing from family life and responsibilities?
Do you find your child can’t stop when you ask him or her to, and they always want “just a bit more”? Do they lose it on you when you tell them that it’s enough? Have you noticed a drastic drop in motivation to do anything, yet they’re highly focussed, even obsessed, with getting back to their phones or tablets?
D0 they complain about being bored all the time if they are not on their screens? Has their phone become another body part that you need to pry out of their hands with a crowbar? Have you thought to yourself “geez he’s reacting just like a drug addict”?
Does your young child have nightmares, and scared of sleeping alone? Does he or she have frequent emotional meltdowns that seem out of control and excessive, stemming out of nowhere? Is your child rude and disrespectful despite your best efforts to teaching proper manners? And you wonder where they learn all this? Is your child exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviours or language?
Do these scenarios seem way too familiar? If so, read on. WARNING: This article is NOT about banning screens from our lives. It’s about using them wisely and responsibly to enhance our children’s lives rather than hindering them.
- Here you can find a good Self Assessment Questionnaire regarding your child’s media use. The questions will also help you see what you need to pay attention to. Media Use History- Self Assessment Questionnaire for your Family
- Electronic Screen Syndrome. Does your child exhibit some of these symptoms? Read this article.
The best way to prepare and protect our children from the “hazards” of screens is to first understand the harm that can be done, the good that can come of media use, and how to discern the good from the bad. Once we have all the information, it is then easier to make informed choices, which are best suited for our families.
STEP 2: EDUCATE, INFORM, AND MAKE CONNECTIONS
I’ve researched quite a few websites and compiled a few resources and thought I’d share them with you. They can also be found in the Resource section of this site, where you can also discover other valuable links.
- Information on these sites helps parents understand the negative impact media has in their children’s lives while also offering tips on managing time spent with various media:
- This key article that has grabbed many’s attention. The conclusions and recommendations still seem to be ignored by many families and the education system, who still allow way too much exposure to screens despite the clear adverse effects of extended exposure. Media and Children – American Academy of Pediatrics
- Why screens are robbing our kids from healthy development. In this article, you will see how screens cannot replace play and what benefits actual play has on child development. How bypassing play or replacing it with screens, while thinking it’s the same, can cause severe developmental challenges in c.hildren. Why the iPad is a bigger threat to our children than anyone realizes
- This article is a brief summary of the AAP article mentioned above. Children’s Media Use is a Health Concern
- Discover the structural damages to the brain caused by too much screen time in Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain
- Children, Adolescents, Obesity and The Media (American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP)
- Clinical Report: The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Media use by children younger than two years (AAP Policy Statement- Great recommendations for all ages)
- Children, Adolescents and the Media (AAP Policy Statement)
- Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media (AAP Policy Statement)
- This article states in point form yet in a comprehensive manner the broad range of deficits, impairments, and disorders that are a direct consequence of extensive media use. The article is written by an expert (pediatric occupational therapist) on the impact of media on child development and learning. A must read. A research review regarding the effects of technology on child development, behavior, and academic performance.
- Selected Research on Screen Time and Children
- Key Reports, Research and Other Resources on the Effects of Media on Children’s Health.
- A National Survey of Teachers About the Role of Entertainment Media in Students’ Academic and Social Development. Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media: The View From The Classroom (PDF).
- A comprehensive guide on screen use, and misuse, for children: Friend or Foe? The Ultimate Screen Time Guide For Kids. Read about the impact of screens, tips on how to reduce screen time, healthy alternatives to screens. A great read, all in one spot.
STEP 3: REMEDIATE AND FIND SOLUTIONS
- These sites offer key tips on what and how to teach children to make healthy media choices:
- Create a family Media Use Plan, TIPS (Source: healthychildren.org of the American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Mayo Clinic’s How to Limit Screen Time
- 27 Tips on How to Reduce your Children’s Screen Time
- Healthy active living: Physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents
- 8 Ways to Help Cure Your Teen’s Screen Addiction
- Ten easy steps when you start a digital diet
- This site offers links and resources for information from the AAP and other organizations that specialize in keeping children and adolescents safer online. Safety Net (American Academy of Pediatrics) Resources for parents on Internet Use and Safety for Families)
- This site describes seven applications (Apps) parents need to be warned about so that they can assure their children’s safety: Dangerous Apps parents should know about
- In this video, developmental psychologist, Gordon Neufeld discusses how parents can prepare children to live and thrive in the digital world Dr. Gordon Neufeld: Raising Children in the Digital World
- These sites offer alternatives to screen time to promote play in your kids. They include fun activities and ideas, and some explain the importance of free play:
- Action guides (PDFs)
- Revaluing Free Play
- Learning Through Play
- From ages 0 to 3: Learning Through Imitation (parents not screens as teachers)
- From ages 0 to 7-year-old: Toys and Play
- Documentary: Where Do the Children Play? And video and article
- Tips for Replacing Screen Time with Unplugged Play
- Comprehensive Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Daycares. Screen Time Reduction Tool Kit. Quite complete!
- For children under two years of age: Activities that Spark Imagination
- Friend or Foe? The Ultimate Screen Time Guide For Kids.
This guide is designed to “help teachers and parents make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children. It provides an overview of the research on screen time and young children. And it offers guidance for those who want their programs to be screen-free, as well as for those who choose to incorporate technology in their settings”: Facing the Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology, and Early Education
Here is a Free App Curbi a screen time management solution for parents to monitor screen use. All you need to do is you sign-up for Curbi and enroll whichever devices you’d like to manage. It allows you to set time limits for specific apps (e.g., YouTube, Minecraft) or an entire device, it can even instantly “time out” a gadget. This can all be done from your own iPhone, Android, tablets, iPad, or any computer. Click on this link to learn more about all its features.
Now that you have a lot of information at your fingertips, you can make informed choices that are best suited for your kids developmental level, and choices that are in line with your family values.
When we know better, we do better. Make the right choices. Media can be a real blessing when used wisely, but media can also cause severe damage. As with anything good, moderation is the best approach, based on educated choices for all members of your family, including yourself.
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