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Setting Child Technology Guidelines

How to set healthy technology guidelines for your children.

Children are growing up in a highly technological world. Kids today are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. Setting technology guidelines for your family can be difficult, but it is necessary.

Family Media Plans 

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2020, two-thirds of parents in the U.S. say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many citing social media or smartphones as a reason why. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and caregivers develop a family media plan that considers the health, education and entertainment needs of each child as well as the whole family.
If you are a co-parent, it is important to coordinate your family media plans. Keeping your child’s technology guidelines, the same, or similar, will be beneficial to both you and your child. If your kids have varying screen time allowances within different households, it will be more difficult for them to follow the rules put in place. It will also be harder for you to enforce the rules.

AAP Recommendations

Here are some of the recommendations set forth by the AAP
  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing. 
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. 
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. 
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms. 
  • ​Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline. 
You can develop a free online family media plan to share with your children. If you are a co-parent, this can also be a useful tool to help you compare guidelines.

Teaching Healthy Media Use

It is important for parents to set a good example as they set technology guidelines for their children. Focus on setting fair parameters for the entire family, even if rules vary for different members due to age. Parents should also set boundaries for themselves to help children view these guidelines as healthy behaviors, rather than rules.
Encourage face-to-face communication. Instead of solely focusing on what your child can or cannot do online, try redirecting their attention to healthy social activities in the real world. You can also use this as an opportunity to encourage family bonding.
Take time to teach good online behaviors. It is important for you and your kids to discuss healthy communication styles in the digital realm. Children tend to copy behaviors from those around them, and the same goes for online interactions. You want to make sure your kids have good examples of online communication.
It is imperative to be on the same page with your co-parent. After a family media plan is developed, it will also have to be enforced. All caregivers should work to remain consistent on how the plan is being implemented and carried out.
TalkingParents can make it easy for you and your co-parent to share child technology guidelines with each other. Learn more about how the TalkingParents app can assist you.

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