In these times when children are growing up in a digital world, it is important to help them learn healthy concepts of digital use and citizenship. Parents play an important role in teaching these skills.
AAP tips to help families navigate the ever-changing digital landscape
- Create your own plan for your family’s media consumption. Media consumption must be done according to the values and style of raising your family. When media consumption is done reflexively and properly, it can improve daily life. But, when done without much thought and in an inappropriate manner, you can replace important activities, such as interaction or personal relationships, time for family, the game the air release, the exercise and the time of inactivity to be disconnected and to sleep.
- Deal with the media world as you would any other environment in your child’s life. The same parenting patterns apply to both the real world and the virtual environment. Set limits; kids expect and need. Meet your children’s friends, both online and offline. Know which platforms, software and applications your children are using, which places they visit online, and what your children do when they are online.
- Set limits and encourage them to take recreational time. The use of technology, like all other activities, must have reasonable limits. Informal play outside the digital world stimulates creativity. Make free time for digital devices a daily priority, especially for very young children.
- Seeing screens should not always be a solitary activity. Seeing together, playing together and participating with your children in the activities they do with their screens encourages social interactions, learning and close ties. Play video games with your kids. It’s a good way to show them a good sportsmanship and the rules of a good game. See a program with them; you will have the opportunity to share your own experiences and life perspectives, as well as give them advice. Do not just monitor the time you spend online, but participate with them so you can find out what you are doing and be part of your activities.
- Set a good example. Teach and be a good example of kindness and good manners online. And, because children are great imitators, limit their own media usage. In fact, you will be more available and connected to your children if you are interacting, hugging and playing with them instead of being embellished in front of the screen.
- Know the value of communication face to face. Younger children learn best through bilateral communication. The practice of speaking back and forth (reciprocally) with your child is critical to the development of language. Conversations can be face to face, or if necessary, by video chat, when a parent has to travel or with a grandfather who lives far away. Research studies have shown that bilateral communication improves language skills-much more than passive listening or one-sided interaction with the screen.
- Limit the use of digital media by younger family members. Do not allow young children under 18 to 24 months to use digital media with the exception of video calls (video chats). Watch digital media together with children between 18 and 24 months of age because they learn when they look at them and talk to you. Limit the use of screens for preschoolers between the ages of 2 and 5 to just one hour per day of high-quality programming. Watch the programs together with young children as much as you can. Young children learn more from real experiences than from what they learn on a screen. So if, Enrique (the Sesame Street) teaches you the letter D, you can repeat this later when you are having dinner or spending time with your child.
- Create technology-free zones. Keep family meals and other social gatherings, as well as children’s rooms, screen-free. Turn off the TV if you’re not watching it as the background noise can interfere with the time you’re spending face-to-face with your children. Recharge devices at night —outside the rooms to help kids avoid the temptation to use them when they should be asleep. These changes encourage family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep.
- Do not use technology as an emotional pacifier. Digital media can be very effective in keeping children calm and quiet, but it should not be the only way to learn to calm down. Children should be taught how to identify and control strong emotions, activities should occur to control boredom, or to calm down using breathing techniques, talk about ways to solve problems, and find other strategies to channel emotions.
- Applications for children-do your own research. More than 80,000 applications are labeled as educational, but few research studies have revealed their real value. Products that are promoted as “interactive “should require more than”pressing and touching the touch panel”. Review the opinions of organizations such as Common Sense Media in English (media products that make sense) – to read reviews about age-appropriate applications, games, and programs to guide you when choosing the best products for your children.
- It’s No problem that your teen is online. Online relationships are part of the development of a typical teenager. Social media can help teens explore and discover more about themselves and identify their place in the adult world. Just make sure your teen behaves appropriately in the real world and online. Many adolescents should be reminded that the configurations of the platforms of privacy really do not make “private” the content and the images, thoughts, and behaviors that adolescents communicate on-line happen to be a part of their digital footprint, permanently. Keep the communication open and let them know they are counting on you if they have questions or concerns.
- Warn children about the importance of the privacy and dangers of predators and the practice of sexting. Teens should know that once some content is shared with others, they won’t be able to erase it or get rid of it altogether. This includes sending text messages with improper images. They must also be aware on how you configure your privacy options, and should be advised that sexual predators often use social networks, chat rooms, emails, and online games to contact, and exploit children.
- Remember, children will always be children. Children will make mistakes using digital media. Try to deal with mistakes with empathy and make the mistake become a learned lesson. But some indiscretions, such as” sexteo ” (sending erotic content), harassment, or sending images hurting themselves, can be warning signs that indicate future problems. Parents should take a closer look at their children’s behaviors and, if necessary, get the support of a professional, including a pediatrician.
Digital media and devices are an integral part of our world today. The advantages of these devices, if used moderately and appropriately, can be great. But research studies have revealed that spending face-to-face time with family, friends and teachers plays a key role in promoting children’s learning and healthy development. Keep face to face contact and not lost behind a stream of media content and technology.