5 tips for smart digital parenting

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How many gadgets do you have at home?

Do you have electronic devices like computers, TVs, tablets, phones, and gaming gadgets? A report from 2016 says that North American homes have about seven devices connected to the internet on average.

How long does your child use them?

The problem is not having gadgets. The problem is how much time kids spend using them. In 2015, it was reported that Canadian kids spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens. This is more time than their parents spend at work.

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

  1. It can make them more likely to become obese.
  2. It can make it harder for them to sleep.
  3. It can make it harder for them to do well in school.
  4. It can make them more likely to become addicted to the internet or video games. This can lead to problems like anti-social behavior.
  5. It can expose them to bad things like violence, porn, ads, and cyberbullying.
  6. It can make them feel sad and hopeless.

(Healthy Children.org)

During the pandemic, people use gadgets a lot. They use them for school, work, and other activities that are now online. Gadgets can be helpful for learning and socializing. But parents need to teach their kids how to use them properly.

5 tips for parents

    Here are some tips to help you keep your kids safe online:

  1. Learn more about technology and internet safety

    The more you know about technology, the better you can help your children. Learn about filters and parental-control apps to protect your kids from dangerous websites. You can also read about media, video games, and their effects at Common Sense Media. Other websites you can use include:

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

    Talking to your child is the best way to limit use. Be honest and explain why some things on the internet can be harmful for them. Teach them respectful online behavior and give sample situations. Teach them the right response or action. This will give them the confidence 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. Don’t stare at your phone all day or use your phone during dinner time.

  4. Read and play with them

    Play video games with your kids and help them understand that they can have fun without gadgets. Read bedtime stories to your child. It’s also a good idea to read in your native language. Young kids learn from hearing the words, rhythm, and patterns of language. This can lessen the bad effects of screen-time.

  5. No screen time one hour before bedtime

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

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

The American Academy of Pediatrics says:

  1. 0-18 months – It’s best not to use gadgets.
  2. 18-24 months – Choose a few good programs to watch together.
  3. Two to five years old – Limit screen time to one hour per day. Watch with your child and explain things they might not understand.
  4. Six and older– Set limits on screen time. Make sure they get enough sleep, exercise, and other healthy habits.

Here’s a tool you can use to schedule screen media:

Media Time Calculator is great tool for planning. Click on this link: Family Media Plan.
Article updated May 5, 2023.
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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