Tips and Advice for Solving the Healthy Screen Time Dilemma
Written in-house by a Galileo Team member, Tiffany shares her experience and knowledge about this complex topic.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the parenting advice available, especially when it comes to recommended screen time.
A simple internet search gives too many results to digest, and just glancing through the top results can be confusing. Much of the “expert” advice seems to be in conflict.
As a parent who wants what is in the best interest of your child, it can be challenging to decide what to do.
Should you limit screen time or allow as much as your child desires? Is the amount of appropriate screen time different for younger children than it is for teens? Which is the best path to take?
Throughout the years, there has always been resistance to using new technology for educational purposes. Here are a few examples.
Healthy Screen Time: the Issues of the Past in our Modern World
When educators wanted to use the chalk and slate with students, there was a concern that its use would negatively impact children. They believed kids would never be able to retain figures in their heads.
When educators wanted to allow students to use the ballpoint pen, some prominent business people claimed that we could never afford such an extravagant expense in the classroom.
The most recent advance before the technology boom was the handheld calculator. At that time, there was an outcry that if we allow the use of handheld calculators in school children will not be able to perform basic arithmetic.
The truth is that when it comes to your own children, you, the parent, are the only expert that can make the call.
You are the one who knows them best in the world. You know how they are wired and what makes them tick. You know what makes them excited and captures their interest.
And you know what they can handle and what they cannot.
What follows are four steps to help decide how to approach healthy screen time in your family.
The "recommended" screen time for kids? Let's unpack this idea.
Step One: Establish the Ground Rules
Before you would allow your child to use a knife in the kitchen for the first time, you would probably have a conversation about how to use the knife safely. You would likely tell your child why it is important to pay attention to how to use the knife.
Because if you don’t, there are potential risks of injury. You would let your child know that their safety is your highest priority.
Once your child has some experience and has proven they can use a knife responsibly, then you might allow them more freedom in the kitchen to try new things.
The same is true when it comes to using technology, especially when the child will be interacting with other people online.
It all starts with your ability to engage in authentic conversation with your child about the use of technology.
Make sure your child knows that their safety is your first priority and that the healthy use of technology is your concern. Keeping the lines of communication open so that your child knows to come to you if they encounter something that makes them uncomfortable is the key.
Once your child has proven that they can be responsible with the use of technology, then you can allow more freedom.
Step Two: Determine if the content is age-appropriate
Let’s continue with the example of a child wanting to learn to cook in the kitchen.
It would not be age-appropriate to expect a five year old to prepare dinner for the entire family right out of the gate. First, you might start with teaching them to prepare healthy snacks.
The same is true when using technology.
Step Three: Maintain A Healthy Balance
I come from a large Italian American family. My grandmother spent a lot of time preparing sauce throughout her life.
His first time trying to make the sauce on his own, my brother wanted some expert advice from my grandmother. He called my grandmother and asked, “Nana, how much basil should I use?”
Her response: “Make sure you put enough but, don’t put too much. “
What she was really trying to say is that the right amount is immeasurable. With experience, you will just know the “right amount”. You have to taste as you go and make adjustments.
Let go of looking for certainty from a formula. This is not an exact science.
When it comes to technology you will need to develop an intuition and keep its use in balance with the other components of a healthy life, social connections, physical movements, and proper nutrition.
Step Four: Be a Great Role Model
Out of all of the steps, this one may be the most important.
If you want your child to develop healthy habits with regard to technology use, be a role model of those habits. If you want your child to unplug for a while, ask yourself when was the last time you modeled that behavior.
Healthy technology habits are just as important for you as they are for your child.
It is important to remember that technology and screens are not inherently evil. Technology is merely a tool just like a knife in the kitchen. Just like a knife in the kitchen, when technology is used carelessly and irresponsibly, it can be dangerous.
But with a healthy dose of respect, it can be used to create a delicious and nutritious meal.
Connect with us and learn more about topics like healthy screen time, self-directed education, family life, and our FREE weekly events. 👇