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How much technology is too much?

Children tech

It’s difficult to decide if, when, and how often to allow children to use technology. However, doctors Tammy Toscos and Michelle Drouin, members of the Informatics Team at Parkview Research Center have been studying the ways children and teens use technology and have a few helpful tips.

Start the conversation early.

As soon as your child asks to interact with a connected device, you should have a conversation with him or her about the benefits and potential pitfalls of using that technology. This conversation should happen again each time a child wants to have a new privilege (e.g., a new app) or start using a new technology. If you don’t know much about the technology they want to use, ask questions until you understand what they will be doing with the technology and decide together on appropriate rules.

Stick with the guidelines!

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines for children’s media use. They have two different sets of recommendations: One is for infants, toddlers and preschool children, and the other is focused on school-age children. They also developed a template to help parents create a Family Media Plan with questions tailored by the age of your child(ren). Ideally, this plan would be completed with your child, so that you both can weigh in on important media use issues and develop rules that fit your family’s lifestyle.

Try to put yourself in their shoes.

More than half of parents say that they argue daily with their children about technology use. As digital natives, many children and teens are using technology as one of their primary means of social communication. Although many parents would like their children to refrain from technology use altogether, it is not realistic for them, especially in the age of e-learning. Moreover, there are many benefits to using technology, including access to information and social connectedness. Instead of having an argument, try to understand their motivations for technology use, and engage in a productive conversation, instead.

Seek out helpful resources.

There are many helpful resources for parents trying to navigate the digital world. One of the most developed resources is Common Sense Media. It has everything from movie reviews (want to know if that movie is kid-appropriate?) to educational videos describing technology addiction among teens. There is also an age-adjusted curriculum for kids focusing on everything from responsible social media use to how to create safe passwords and safely share information online.

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