Parenting in a Tech World for Preschoolers: Does my Child have too much Screentime?

It’s a digital world we live in. Nowadays, we can’t deny the overwhelming influence of our mobiles in our children’s hands (and even our own). Getting off our mobile screens and focusing on face-to-face relationships has become a challenge for some, and as we want to embrace technology for the benefits it brings, we are also worried about our children wasting time and getting addicted to their screens. 

How then do we become tech-savvy and tech-positive? As parents, we’d want to make sure our children have a healthy balance of screen-time, just as much as ourselves modeling a positive use of technology while balancing family interactions.

However it’s not really that easy! Truth be told, many parents too fall short of modeling a healthy use of technology for our children. 

So where do we start? It begins with understanding and being aware of the results of early introduction of the screen. Too much screen-time for our children could lead to:

– No interest in physical forms of play: Children become dependent on their mobile screens for stimulation.

– Reduced creativity: As answers are often provided instantly in online games or quizzes, it leads to impatience and lack of focus and does not develop one’s own thinking and mental capability.

– Impacted communication: As there is less time for face-to-face interaction, naturally a child does not develop enough social-emotional skills and the ability to recognise non-verbal cues.

The Best Way to Avoid:

Technology should not be your child’s:

Breakfast, lunch, dinner companion
– Babysitter
– Tutor
– Playground
– Trusted ‘friend’
– Parental substitute 

According to a study of 1000 children between 4 to 18 years old interviewed to find out how technology was impacting their relationships, social and emotional lives:

Children’s Tech Skills included positive abilities to handle computers:
– 69% know how to operate a computer mouse
– 63% can turn on and off computer
– 58% play a basic computer game

However in comparison, their Life Skills fell short:
– 11% can tie own shoelace
–  37% can write first and last name
– 20% know how to swim unaided

(Source *AVG Digital Skills Study, 2012 conducted by Dr Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard)

Hence, parents must beware of allowing technology to become a kind of “co-parent” and prevent too much screen-time, which often includes modeling this for your children, i.e. parents themselves must also practice a healthy balance.

 

“When parents focus on their digital world first — ahead of their children — there can be deep emotional consequences for the child, Steiner-Adair says. “We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

It begins with us!

For Further Reading

Seven “Technology To-Do’s” for parents:
https://www.stewardschool.org/news-detail?pk=917401

10 Lessons for Parents Raising Children in a Digital World:
https://sunshine-parenting.com/10-lessons-parents-raising-children-digital-world/

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