In today’s fast-paced world, technology has become an integral part of human existence. Nowadays, not many people can stay for more than an hour without checking their phones. This problem has gotten even worse now that many kids have access to phones, iPads, and computers. Adults already struggle with tech and social media addiction, and parents should be proactive enough to save their kids from falling into the same trap.
That said, tech use among kids varies. Some are more beneficial than others, and you should be extra cautious when defining some controls. This is because the same technology you may want to limit could be quite helpful to their learning and development. So it’s not obvious if tech use among kids has become skewed more to the negative or positive. A rule of humb is to constantly monitor and draw boundaries between what’s right and what’s not.
Before we see how you will manage your kids’ tech use, let’s first understand both the positive and negative implications of technology and when to limit your kids’ tech and screen time.
How Much Screen and Tech Time is Healthy?
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to limiting how much time your kids should use technology and smart devices. First, not all technologies are the same, and not all screen time is equal. An hour spent in a digital coding class isn’t the same as an hour spent watching random YouTube videos. The type and quality of content should always come before the quantity or time of exposure. Still, watching too much of the valuable content isn’t good for your kids’ overall health and wellbeing.
A rule of thumb is to help your kids understand the dangers of too much screen time. Let them know that it’s possible to play constructive video games and still make time to get outside and engage in sports and physical exercises. Here, you may want to limit screen time using apps and software.
As far as the quality of content is concerned, you should use parental control apps to restrict age-inappropriate content and sites. Where possible, limit tech use to the very minimum, such as video chatting with friends and relatives. For younger kids who don’t need the internet, cutting access is a good idea. For the older kids, you want to have a schedule for exercising, doing homework, and using phones or computers. This will help establish ground rules that everyone wants to follow.
When to Limit Your Kids’ Exposure to Tech Gadgets
Even with a near-perfect schedule, there are chances that things will go out of hand. Your kids may find a way to maneuver the rules for their own interest. This could mean skipping physical exercises so they can spend more time on the phone or computer. Regardless of how things may unfold, it’s necessary to always be on the lookout for when things may start to shift so you can take the required action.
That said, here are the signs of unhealthy tech usage among your kids:
- Boredom when there’s no access to technology – if your kids cannot focus on anything else but their phones and computer, it’s a sign that things aren’t as good as they seem to be. Here, your response and action should be gradual and realistic. Explain why you are limiting their tech usage and incentivize them to engage in alternative and healthier activities.
- There’s a harsh resistance to tech and screen time limits – Once your kids become hesitant about following the very same rules they once followed, maybe it’s time to change your tactics. Perhaps you are too inconsiderate of their preferences, so you should listen to understand what they really want. Let them know what’s good for them before adjusting the schedule or restrictions.
- Tech and screen time interferes with school, sleep, and physical interactions – this is a good sign that your technology control techniques aren’t working. Too much dependence on digital entertainment such as video games and YouTube videos can easily affect sleep and even compromise face-to-face communication. Here, you’ll need to go back to your tech restrictions and reevaluate their effectiveness.
Risks of Exposing Your Kids to Too Much Tech and Screen Time
Kids, unlike adults, are still developing, and their bodies need a balance of mental and physical wellness. Similarly, they are also young and not informed on the risks of spending too much time on their gadgets. But even if you inform them, they aren’t as sophisticated to relate to these reasons when all they need is fun and entertainment.
As a parent or guardian, you need to understand how too much screen time can negatively affect your kid’s health and overall wellbeing. That way, you’ll devise a better strategy to get them on the right track. Here are the risks of too much tech usage and screen time amongst kids:
- Eye strain issues – Staring at tech gadgets for hours can lead to eye fatigue and headaches. Over time, continuous use of these gadgets without blue light filters may result in focus issues, blurry vision, and even double vision. For kids under the age of ten, an hour of screen time is more than enough. You also want to install some screen brightness apps or eye care software on these gadgets.
- Posture issues – too much time spent on the couch, hunching over the phone or computer is going to affect your kids’ posture. For younger children, this is a huge problem that could affect the spine and even hinder its development. Poor posture while using tech gadgets is common, and if the spine is spared, upper back pains and lower back issues may develop with time.
- Poor brain development – for kids age four and below, too much exposure to tech gadgets such as phones and iPad may affect their cognitive development. Replacing physical exercises with video games at this younger age may also affect brain development.
How to Successfully Manage Your Kids’ Tech Use: Final Takeaways
Now that you know the effects of too much tech exposure and some tactics to limiting screen time, how will you successfully implement these tactics? Will your kids outgrow these restrictions and snap back to their old unhealthy habits? It all comes down to how you’ll establish the rules, how you carry yourself, and the culture you have built at home. Here are some quick takeaways:
- Go for balance, not perfection – digital gadgets are very addictive and entertaining at the same time. As a parent, you want to be realistic in your expectations and understand that your kids love these devices. So instead of making it taboo to use a phone, create time for everything essential to ensure balance.
- Be a role model – your kids are good at noting inconsistencies and double standards. If they are to respect your schedule, make sure it’s inclusive and that everyone at home sticks to it.
- Make tech rules part of your family ethics and culture – every home has some morals and ethics, at least, the very basic ones. By incorporating tech rules with these morals, you will make the work easier for everyone. Your kids will quickly differentiate what’s wrong from what’s right, and they will be more motivated to stick to such rules.
Managing kids’ tech use can be challenging but not impossible. Every home is different, and so are your kids. That said, there’s no single recipe for success. So you should test out all the strategies and tactics we’ve identified above until you find out what works best.
Chris Mcdonald has been the lead news writer at complete connection. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. Chris is also an author of tech blog Area19delegate. He likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.