Our generation is unique in that we are the first set of parents bringing up our children in the digital age. That means we do not have any advice from experienced elders on how to handle the challenges that come along. While the digital world brings with it many advantages, it has its risks too. It is impossible to raise your child completely devoid of technology. But as a parent, it is our responsibility to safeguard them from their threats.
No screen time needed for kids under 3 years of age: Kids in this age group thrive on personal interaction with parents, caretakers, and peers. They are learning several skills at the same time ranging from gross and fine motor skills to sitting, standing, walking, and speech. Doctors advise giving a lot of attention to the child, talking to them, giving them lots of opportunities to express themselves. Screen time is a passive learning process that can be withheld from them for a little longer. Even if you have to use screen time to help you finish chores, it is best to keep it for short periods of 15 minutes or so.
Half an hour to one hour of screen time for ages 3 to 5 years: Speech is one of the most important developments during this period. A two-way communication mode is extremely important to encourage speech. Excessive screen time curbs this 2-way communication and has been known to be one of the leading causes of speech delay in children.
For school going kids and teens: Set screen time boundaries, monitor the content. Teach them self control in the digital world.
Show an interest in your children’s online lives, but don’t pry: Allow your child the space to function in the digital world but don’t be disinterested. Ask questions about who they are spending time online without being intrusive. How would you have felt if your parent had listened in on your phone calls to your friend, or read your diaries?
Get to know the apps and services they use: Show a genuine interest in the apps and services they use. This will leave a better chance of them confiding in you in case they face any difficulties.
Talk about difficult subjects in a way both you and your child feel comfortable with: Avoid embarrassing chats. Instead, focus on how you can make it comfortable for the child.
Lead by example: Be a role model for your kids. If you cannot live up to the rules set, then they will definitely try to defy you.
Freedom to explore: Give children the freedom to explore within boundaries and a safety blanket should things go wrong. If they don’t make mistakes, they will never have the confidence to handle it if things go wrong in your absence. So allow them to explore but within boundaries.
It is undeniable that technology has immense benefits. We cannot think of a future without it. So, it is best to let our children understand that we as parents are not anti-technology. Instil the understanding that technology needs to be used safely and intelligently. You will soon see that they are able to handle it well without the parent having to keep an eagle’s eye on them.
Stay Tuned! Stay Relevant!