Author: Alison Fung
with Dr. Guanghai Wang,
Clinical Psychologist and Sleep Specialist
and Lei Jin, Educational Psychologist

In the second part of our series on children and technology, we look at how parents can introduce technology to children age five and above. Check out the first article about how technology use should be introduced to babies and toddlers.

5 and Older: Adult Supervision and Establishing Rules

How much screen time?

AAP recommends setting consistent limits on screen time. They suggest creating a “media use plan” and limiting screen time to less than 1 or 2 hours a day.

The research:

The International Society for Technology in Education recommends basic skills in technology operations and concepts by age 5, while other research shows that early exposure to age-appropriate programs tailored around the school curriculum is associated with cognitive and academic improvements. Pure entertainment, however, particularly violent content, is associated with poorer cognitive development and lower academic performance. From the age of 5, children can begin to explore and start learning how to use different types of technology.

What to do:

  • As technology is being used as educational tools in schools more and more frequently, children will start receiving exposure to screens and media. Set some ground rules; for instance, they must ask permission from an adult first if they want to try a new game or read a new e-book.
  • Make sure that children do not have access to app stores or sites that sell media.
  • Test apps and sites to ensure they are age-appropriate before your children use them.
  • Set screen time limits. One parent suggests giving a set amount of screen time for your child, whether for TV, tablets, or computers, and letting them decide how to allocate the time, which will also teach them time management and decision-making skills.
  • Think about what screen time replaces. Are your children chatting with friends when they could be hanging out with them in real life?
  • Introduce your children to the concept of digital citizenship, and help them develop an understanding of how to use technology appropriately and responsibly, as well as the norms of online behavior. Help them to think critically about their use of technology and media.
  • Parents should also make use of the internet as a means to explore other cultures and promote multicultural understanding.
  • Promote digital literacy to give your child an advantage in later life in as technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous.

Takeaways

Parents play an important role in helping their children navigate an increasingly technological world, in the same way they must help their children navigate the real world. The key for parents in the digital age is to explore technology with your child, and to make it an interactive and educational experience. Technology should support creativity, play and learning, and is most effective when it is interactive and of high quality content. Whatever the age of your child, make sure you designate tech-free zones and tech-free time together and use technology as a tool to complement offline learning.

Make sure to check out the third article in this series, on teenagers and screen addiction.

If you feel there are deeper issues at hand in the way your children are spending time on their devices, with a serious, negative impact on their mental health, consult an expert. You can contact us at ELG for a consultation with our specialists, Dr. Wang and Lei Jin, who can help you or your child overcome tech addiction.

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