Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology
A Good Digital Citizen Knows How to Manage Screen Time
When it comes to kids and screen time the experts agree... introduce screens slowly and developmentally-appropriately, view screens together, and explain, explain, explain. In her book, "Raising Humans in a Digital World," Graber suggests using "digital on-ramps" to introduce young kids to tech. Here's a guide:
Give us the Deets!
The average 8- to 18- year old spends more time with digital media than with parents or in school. They are tuned in or logged on eight hours per day— 10 hours and 45 minutes if you account for multitasking — on smart phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, and computers. Teens are fascinated with social media, YouTube, online games, and more. Remember they are not "addicted" to these devices, they are addicted to each other!
Because it is important for good digital citizens to know how to maintain a balance between their online and offline lives, we recommend starting early by following our digital on-ramps (above). As kids get older, have open conversations about what they are creating online. Ask them how to download and use the apps they are on so that you can be a part of their world. We suggest having no phones in the bedroom, at meal time, and to adhere to your school's policy regarding screens. Finally, is critical that kids have face-to-face interactions so that the practice of empathy is cultivated. As expert Erin Reilly says, "people before phones." If someone is trying to have a conversation with you at home, it's time to put the device down.
"Teens are now 40% lower in empathy levels than three decades ago, and the same time period, narcissism has increased by 58%."
- Dr. Michele Borba
"We don't have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal, we didn't give our kids cellphones until they were 14 and they complained other kids got them earlier."
Here are American Academy of Pediatrics screen time recommendations:
For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.
For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
According to the AAP, children are not developmentally prepared to handle the online world at young ages. They need guidance and education. Age restrictions on social media apps require them to be at least 13 years of age. Their brains are not yet formed enough to make thoughtful decisions that could have a lasting impact on their lives. Remember, everything they post stays online forever and can be seen by anyone and everyone.
Is your child ready to connect online?
Parents often ask us, "When is the right time to give a child a phone?" So in "Raising Humans in a Digital World," Graber answers this question with seven questions! Here is a checklist for parents and guardians to ask themselves before handing over a powerful tool... 📱
1. Does your child have A+ social skills? 👭
Empathy, kindness, respect, civility, and more, are capacities that evolve over time. They are needed now more than ever online.
2. Can she manage her online reputation? 🖥
Everything kids post—and everything others post about them—speaks volumes about their characters.
3. Can he maintain safe relationships? 👩👧
Cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, and more are some of the downsides of connecting with others online. Kids must know what to do when they encounter harmful relationships.
4. Does she know when to unplug? 🔌
Knowing how—and why—to unplug from tech and into "real" life is a must-have skill.
5. Can he protect his online privacy? 🚧
In the excitement of being online, many kids give away too much info. They must learn what is safe to share, and what is not.
6. Does she know how to think critically? 🧠
Knowing how to evaluate media for its authenticity, reliability, and bias protects kids from falling prey to misinformation online.
7. Is he equipped to be a digital leader? 😎
Standing up to bullies, creating inspiring content, and sharing uplifting stories—these are just some of the things digital leaders do. The world needs digital leaders equipped with the skills above.
If your child is ready, we have a contract ready for you so the expectations of having such a powerful device are set. We encourage you to adapt this with your child so that it suits your unique family culture and values.