Is screen time taking over your house? Technology is here to stay, and as parents, it's our job to help our kids navigate it responsibly. Check out our ideas for setting guidelines that work.In the corner of our garage sits a vintage tabletop Ms. Pacman video game, a relic of my husband’s childhood. Much has changed in technology since that time. Instead of Atari, we have Xbox and wiiu. Rather than just a desktop computer, most of us also have laptops and handheld devices. Long gone are rotary phones—remember those? Instead, we have smart phones that contain our bank, encyclopedia, security system, library, stereo, social networks, and calendar all wrapped up small enough to fit in our back pocket. Indeed, since the days of Pacman, technology has changed, so much so that it often seems our life is ruled by and shaped by it.
Children and Technology
Our children are growing up in a world where everything revolves around a screen. Children today spend at least seven hours a day staring at some kind of screen, be it a television, computer, or handheld device. While much of technology is helpful, useful, and important, there is also much that is concerning. Studies have found that overuse of technology can cause attention difficulties, obesity, irritability and behavior problems, learning challenges, and even addiction.
As parents, we should always be watchful, discerning, and informed about what our children watch, play, and participate in. Sometimes even things that are good can turn out to be bad because of the sin found in every human heart. Through technology, children are exposed to pornography at a younger age than ever before. Pedophiles use technology to seek out prey. Temptations abound at every click and scroll.
As parents, we need to set rules and limits to our child’s use of screens, computers, phones, and devices. Such rules and limits will depend on our child’s age, maturity, and the purpose for which they use such devices. This article cannot cover all concerns parents might have, but here are a few guidelines to consider.
Setting Limits for Screen Time
1. Set a time limit
Children need boundaries and parameters. When it comes to screen use, they need a time limit. Currently, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two have no screen time and that older children have no more than two hours a day of any kind of screen time, including watching television. For more information on current recommendations, visit the AAP website.