Hollywood versions of futuristic society inevitably include scenes where there are digital screens everywhere broadcasting fantastical consumer messages or providing galactic updates - from an über connected tech apartment, hi-speed transportation pod and more.
In today’s hi-tech world, we are not quite at that level of screen-fever, but we do see and use more and more screens in our daily lives. We have more devices with screens: televisions, iPads, computers, smartphones, ebook readers and so forth. We have more locations to view screens: homes, schools, lobbies, bars, waiting rooms, transport hubs, etc.
With this proliferation of screens, what is a parent to do? How can a responsible digital parent ensure that her children are getting the most of out screen usage while reducing the side effects of too much screen time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that “by limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their child’s media experience.”
According to the National Institute of Health, allowing your child too much screen time may make it difficult for your child to sleep at night, may raise your child's risk of attention problems, anxiety, and depression and risk of gaining weight.
The AAP also emphatically stated no screen time for children under 2, which led Zero to Three (National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families) to investigate the necessity of this restriction. In their recently published ‘Screensense: Setting the Record Straight’ Zero to Three contradicts the strict AAP no screen time under 2 rule and advises parents to “establish a healthy “media diet” from the start, as research shows that early programming choices predict later choices, and set future patterns of media viewing.”
Did you see the key points? It’s up to you as a parent to guide your child’s media experience, to preserve your child’s health with respect to screen usage and to establish a healthy media diet. (For an excellent article on how tech experts view technology and screen limits for children, read this NY Times article, entitled Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent.)
As a good digital parent, you want to show your children the benefits of Internet and technology. You want them to understand all of the opportunities and fun things that they have, just a finger swipe away. But with all good things, you have to set limits. On them, and on you.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.