Children and Devices

Children on phone

Source: Flickr, Guillermo Alonso

Where do we draw the line when it comes to our kids and devices? And how do we navigate requests for cellphones when they are older? How long is too long when it comes to looking at a screen on a road trip? Our entire world is very different from when we (the parents) grew up. Instead of kickball, there’s Angry Birds. And instead of math workbooks, there’s an app for that. Everything in your home can be digital, from the refrigerator to the lights, and computers are mainstays in most schools and homes. Sometimes that “computer” is simply in the palm of your child’s hand.

Parenting Challenges

Parenting now has unique and new hurdles that everyone must learn to navigate. You have to decide when to take the phone or pad away and what apps are actually stimulating your child’s brain in a healthy and productive way. This isn’t an issue just for parents of teens, either. Children as young as 1 or 2 are ready to start holding the phone and playing. And toddlers are able to understand and engage with devices at incredible rates. Time with screens isn’t going to diminish or go away; it’s here to stay. So what do parents do about it?

Talking About Technology

In a recent learning and technology news story, parents confronted the issue of kids and screens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these types of news stories are some of the most popular with parents. In this particular one, parents shared with each other. They asked questions about how to encourage face-to-face time with children, ensuring the privacy and safety of their children, and how parents can model good device behavior. These questions keep coming up and some worry about parents spending too much time on devices as well.

Finding Balance

It is important to remember a good balance, between play at the playground and play on any device. If you find that you are facing similar questions with your own children, engage your fellow parents in discussion. It can be good to talk these concerns out and you may decide to form playgroups. You could opt to focus on physical play with all phones put away (including parents). Or you can have kids try to act out their favorite app games in real life.

Focusing on coming together as a family and enjoying playtime is a quick and easy way to distract from devices. You can take everyone on a camping trip, where there’s no data or signal, or simply put rules in place such as “no phones at the table.” Finding the right balance for your family is most important in this new tech-driven world.