1) Limit Usage
Though children 8 to 18 typically spend upwards of seven to eight hours per day looking at a tablet, laptop, or television, the American Heart Association recommends limiting screen time to no more than two hours. For children two to five years old, parents should limit children to just one hour per day to avoid developing sedentary habits.
As powerful a tool as technology can be, tablets and smart devices should not be allowed to replace imaginative, creative play. In other words, one of the best ways to harness the power of technology is to make sure you turn it off and let your children play outside.
2) Provide Instruction
Set clear expectations for the amount of time and type of content your children can consume on smart devices. Younger children should be supervised to ensure they avoid even accidentally stumbling upon something inappropriate for their age. Older children and teenagers may be afforded some independence, provided they adhere to the established expectations.
In addition to discussing approved and restricted content, have conversations about why certain sites, shows, and games are considered inappropriate. Help your children make responsible, safe, and academically fruitful decisions about their technology usage.
3) Use in Common Spaces
You can set the tone in your home now that computers and smart devices should be used only in the public spaces in your home. This helps make technology usage a community experience in your home, not a virtual place in which your children can hide. Store chargers in your living room or kitchen and use old-fashioned alarm clocks in bedrooms to further reinforce the idea that smart devices are not private.
4) Install Content Filters
Content filters are an effective means by which to guard against inappropriate content; however, they do not replace supervision. If there is a weak spot in a content filter, a child or teenager can find it. Parents must remain vigilant in
5) Initiate Discussion
Talk about what your children are learning and help them think academically and spiritually about their technology usage. Even during and after television shows and movies, you can stimulate fruitful conversations by asking questions like:
- What was the main idea of that episode/movie?
- Who was your favorite character? Why?
- What were the consequences of the characters’ good and bad behavior?
- What would be the outcome if the characters had made different decisions?
- Did any characters demonstrate or act upon faith?
- How would your faith impact what you would have done in a similar situation as one of the characters?
These questions can be applied to video games and other content and will help establish the link between technology and learning in your home.
6) Activate Learning
In addition to having intentional conversations about the content, your children see on smart devices, the way in which you discuss the purpose of screen time can reinforce your intentions. From video games to social media and YouTube, can be used for learning instead of merely “killing” time.
For more information about how to utilize technology to advance your children’s educational experiences, contact Emmanuel Lutheran School.