Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are You Raising an “IAddict”?: Healthy Technology Use for Children



We live in a world overrun with iPads, iPhones, laptops, televisions, and every other technological device you can imagine. Raising a healthy child in such a technology dependent world can prove to be a daunting task for parents today. So, how do you know if your child is getting a healthy dose of technology or if they need some time away from the screen? And if your child is experiencing a technology overload, what should you do? Here are some tips from the experts.

Is it technology overload?
To see if your child is using too much technology, it is important to first be aware of their current habits. Start by recording the amount of screen time that your child has on a normal day. This includes time on phones, television, computers, tablets, iPods, and other electronics. At the end of the day, total up the amount of time your child spent in front of screens.

The next step is to compare these totals with those outlined by the National Institute for Health which are:
Children under age 2 should have no screen time.
Limit screen to 1 - 2 hours a day for children over age 2

Is your child over these limits? Follow the tips below  to help limit the technology use in your home


What can you do?
Dr. Gary Small at UCLA recommends that you establish the 1 to 5 rule in your home for children up to age four or five. This means that for every minute of technology use, the child should spend 5 minutes doing something creative, talking with people, playing with toys, or engaging in other activities that can calm an overactive brain. Establishing this rule helps children learn, grow, and embrace creativity without technology at a time when it is crucial to their development.

Other experts recommend designating “technology-free” zones in the home where cellphones, tablets, laptops, and other technology devices are not allowed. Some of the recommended areas include the dinner table and in bedrooms. Establishing areas that are free of technology can help foster more social interaction and strengthen relationships.

One of the most powerful pieces of advice is to set a good example of proper technology use for your child. Studies show that children pickup their technology habits from their parents. Set an example by putting down the phone to talk to another person, shutting off the TV to go outside and play, or reading a book instead of playing a video game.

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