9 Essential Technology Tips for Kids
Donna's Talk on Technology
On Children’s Week I attended a talk by Donna Cross, a UWA Professor. Donna spoke about the effects of technology on children, and said that technology was here to stay, so parents needed to learn how to use it positively. She said banning it would just create a greater chasm between parents and children. She suggested we perhaps think of it as a tool, like a window to the outside world, or like a magnifying glass that a child can use to view the world in a way they never have before.
In saying that, one of my kids was playing with a magnifying glass and managed to burn a hole in their bedroom rug! Technology is a useful tool but it’s not a great idea to let kids use a tool as much as they like, unsupervised! Also there is no longitudinal research, and we won’t know how playing with iPads affects the brain development of a toddler for another decade. So we need to use wisdom and discernment. Donna mentioned the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that kids under two have no access to technology.
Here are Donna’s top tech tips:
1.Encourage co viewing. Never let kids sit around an iPad alone. Encourage other children to watch one thing together rather than being on separate devices.
2.Allow them to create content instead of just consuming it.
3.Create tech free zones in your home, e.g. phones must stay in the kitchen at all times, and everywhere else in the home is a phone free zone.
4.Balance green time with screen time.
5.20/20/20/20 vision rule. Looking at screens for a long time can cause short sightedness. Encourage kids to take a 20 minute break, blink 20 times, look at something at least 20 metres away, and do something physical for 20 minutes.
6.Increase the distance between the child and the device. No apps in laps.
7.Monitor use using tokens. Write down allocated amounts of time for technology use on milk bottle lids kept in a jar. Once the kids have used up all their tokens that’s it for the day.
8.Limit access one hour before bedtime as the blue light from devices inhibits production of melatonin.
9.Create a media agreement with your kids and have everyone in the family sign it.
My kids in grade five and six are on the school bus for two hours a day and play on their iPads during that time. At school they use iPads 50-70% of the time. So by the time they get home, they’ve been on their iPads for about five hours, which I think is way too much, but it is what it is. So our home is generally a tech free zone for kids at this stage. Each family needs to work out what is best for them, because technology is here to stay!
I'll leave you with an infographic from the South Texas Eye Institute, which I found interesting!