5 tips for smart digital parenting

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How many gadgets do you have at home?

Do you have computers, laptops, smart TVs, tablets, gaming gadgets, and mobile phones? Most homes today have about seven devices connected to the internet.

How long does your child use them?

Having gadgets is not the problem. The time kids use them has grown longer. Canadian kids spend about 7 hours and 48 minutes a day in front of screens. American kids use mobile devices 48 minutes a day.

What are the effects of too much gadget and internet use on kids?

  1. It increases the risk of obesity.
  2. It causes sleep problems.
  3. It has a negative effect on school performance.
  4. It can lead to addiction and problematic Internet use (e.g. Internet gaming disorder, anti-social behavior)
  5. It exposes them to bad content such as violence, porn, advertising and cyberbullying.
  6. It can lead to depression.

(Healthy Children.org)

5 tips for parents

  1. Learn more about technology and internet safety

    Learn more about technology. Understand how gadgets work. The more we know, the better we can supervise our children. You can:

  2. Talk to your kids and help them make good choices

    Talking to your child is the best way to limit use. Be honest. Tell them why you need to set limits. Explain why some things are harmful or inappropriate for them. Be open to answering their questions.

    Teach them respectful online behavior. Warn them about the danger of giving personal information and photos online. Give sample situations. Tell them the right response or action. They will be confident to say no or log off if they don’t feel safe.

  3. Be a good example

    Kids watch what you do. So practice good habits at home. Use your mobile phone minimally at home. Don’t use it during family time or dinner time.

  4. Read and play with them

    Play video games with your kids. You will see the nature of the games and see potential dangers. Play board games, sports or other off-line games with them too. These are great bonding moments with your children.

    Read bedtime stories to your child. Read books or stories in your native language. Young kids will learn from hearing the words, rhythm, and patterns of language. This lessens the damaging effects of screen-time.

  5. No screen time one hour before bedtime

    Screen time (whether TV or computer) near bed time will make it hard for your child to rest and sleep. Keep gadgets out of the room.

How much time should you let your child use screen media?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  1. 0-18 months – No gadgets.
  2. 18-24 months – Choose a few high-quality programs and watch with them.
  3. 2 to 5 years – One hour per day. Watch with your child to explain what they might not understand.
  4. 6 and older- Set consistent limits on the time spent using media. Make sure media use does not take the place of sleep, physical activity and other healthy habits.

Here’s an example of how scheduling can be done:

Sources: Canadian kids spend more time in front of screens each week than their parents spend at work, Catherine Cameron, Tennis Canada; and The Common Sense Census: Media use by kids age zero to eight, Common Sense Media, 2017.

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