There’s no escaping it: the digital age is in full swing. Everyone, regardless of age, owns or has access to a smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop, digital TV, and other pieces of technology designed to inform, entertain, and make life a bit easier and comfier.
The majority of children today are exposed to technology not only in their homes but in their schools as well. Because of this, a registered clinical psychologist from Sydney points out that their exposure and use of digital devices has already doubled. This can cause parents to worry even more about their kids using technology irresponsibly.
Healthy and Happy Kids in the Modern World
Excessive digital exposure has various negative effects on kids. These include inadequate nutrition and lack of exercise which will result in poor health.
Various studies also show that too much screen time will affect children’s concentration and problem-solving skills. They tend to experience heightened social and emotional challenges as well.
Since technology is around us, restricting your kids’ access to them can be quite impossible. To raise happy, healthy children in the digital age, the best solution is to find a way to fit technology in their daily life sensibly. This means teaching them how to use technology smartly and healthily.
Below are some tips on how to raise happy, balanced digital age kids:
1. Limit the digital exposure of your youngest family members
Although restricting your school-aged kids’ access to technology will be difficult, you can still do this to your children below five years old.
Studies show that excessive screen time can interrupt the normal brain development of toddlers and preschoolers. To ensure the healthy development of your young kids, help toddlers aged 18 to 24 months avoid digital media.
For kids ages two to five, limit screen use (both small and large) to only an hour a day of educational programming. Watch high quality programming or use an educational app with them.
Co-viewing is highly recommended so that your kids can learn from both watching and talking with you.
2. Create a technology use plan for your family
Technology should work for you and your family. It should enhance daily life, not impede it.
You can achieve this goal by making a plan on how, when, and where everyone should use technology at home. Set a schedule for using the laptop, computer, tablet, and other devices and where they can use them. Make sure no one uses their device during dinner, and that they turn them off an hour before bedtime. This includes having a sound plan for risk-based cybersecurity leak for everyone at home.
When creating this plan, involve the whole family. Make sure they understand why you are setting this plan. Ask them for their preferences and opinions such as the hours they can use their smartphones or tablets during weekends.
3. Encourage face-to-face communication and outdoor play
Nothing can replace your fun, serious, and honest talks with your kids. As such, have open discussions with your kids every day.
Aside from asking them about how their day was or what they are currently learning in school, talk to them about using digital media responsibly and smartly. Warn them about how sex offenders use social media, email, and online gaming to contact and exploit children.
In addition, schedule regular outdoor activities as well. Go to a local park or playground, visit museums, or simply play with them in your lawn. Nature has been proven effective in boosting overall well-being. They will get some much-needed exercise outdoors, too.
4. Nourish your children’s self-esteem
Whether your kids are already active on social media or not yet, always sustain their sense of self-worth.
Likes, comments, number of followers, and other indicators of online status will be part of your children’s digital lives. It is important that they do not rely on these indicators to assess their popularity or their self-worth. If they do, they will start depending on peer validation. This, in turn, can cause depression.
Help your kids avoid this problem by fostering in them a strong internal sense of self-worth. Encourage activities and hobbies that will give them a sense of accomplishment. If they are in good in STEM subjects, ask them if they want to sign up for after-class learning programs, or a spring or summer academic camp.
5. Be a digital age role model
Lastly, before you start becoming too strict about your kids’ use of devices, look into your own habits first.
If you’re always glued to your smartphone or watching TV, begin curbing these unhealthy habits as well. When your kids see that you are not tethered to online games or social media, they will realize that they don’t need to spend a lot of time using their devices.
This will encourage them to reduce their screen time significantly.
And when you are available for your kids, you will be more connected with them. This will strengthen your bond with them. This, in turn, will help them stay healthy and happy as they grow older.
Fitting technology into your children’s daily lives can be really challenging.
If you think you need professional help to raise digital age kids properly, consider signing up for family therapy. With the assistance of a licensed therapist, you will be able to nurture your kids and help them stay strong, healthy, and happy in this modern world.
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