ICT devices like tablets, smart phones and gaming consoles offer children many positive learning, creative and social opportunities. It is important for them to learn to use these tools productively, creatively and safely. There are limits to their use. These limits depend on the quality of the experience your child has on these devices and the amount of time they spend on them. Overuse of these devices may have negative physical and emotional health outcomes.
It is essential that we help our kids find a healthy balance with their technology use.
Limit sedentary device use and encourage physical activity. Sedentary activity is linked with obesity and other negative health outcomes.
Support traditional relationships and socialising:
- encourage human to human social skills and relationships
- enable these by offering opportunities and support with transport and access to friends and peers.
Encourage creative, interactive content:
- Maximise higher quality interactions by offering creative, interactive and positive game, app and video choices. Use resources like: www.commonsensemedia.org and www.childrenandmedia.org.au
- be aware of age classifications. Many games and videos contain violence, drug use, sexual content and themes that are not appropriate for children. For instance the Australian Classification Board classifies Grand Theft Auto as 18+ and Call of Duty as MA15+. You can check a game or video’s rating here: www.classification.gov.au
- The Apple and Google app stores also provide age advice for each app.
Help them develop good habits by setting limits.
Role model healthy device use.
Offer apps and content that have been researched and are high quality. Websites like commonsensemedia.org can help, as can sharing experiences and recommendations with friends.
- Internet should be in public areas of the house where you can oversee its use – NOT in their bedroom.
- Encourage 60 minutes of device free time before bed
- Give 5 minute warning to help them learn to prepare to stop using device.
- Encourage them to talk to you about their device use and online experiences.
- Reward good behaviour
- Role model – that means you!