How to Organize a Child’s Interaction with Technology: Time
The American Pediatric Association writes that,
“Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content.”
But why this particular figure? Surely in this day and age, interaction with technology can occupy more of our children’s time! To understand this, we must consider the nature of the developing child and ask ourselves, if we are allowing our children to be engrossed on a device for several hours, what are they missing out on?
Time for Socialization
First and foremost, a young child learns the intricacies of social behavior through their family. Conversations at the dinner table, play time with siblings and secluded one on one time with a parent are all important scenarios that time needs to be set aside for. These moments teach the child both explicitly and implicitly the core values associated with being a person. Time taken away from this, would have long-term consequences for a child’s social skills.
Time for Exploration
Sitting down in front of a screen takes away the exploratory part of childhood development. Young children need to be able to learn through feeling and observation and this can only be done whilst maneuvering around their own little world. Touching the rough bark of a tree, smelling cut grass or getting wet from the rain are just a few examples of essential tactile experiences that develop a young child’s understanding of the world around them.
Time for Imagination
One of the drawbacks of extended technological use, is the slow draining of imagination. Given that programs geared towards kids are bright, colourful and tied to their interests, extensive use can “hand over” an imaginary world to the children. This deprives the child of their use of creativity. They no longer have to create an imaginary world where they are the heroes that save everyone, that is already imagined for them. Thus, technological use should be balanced with time for their own thoughts to come alive through creative play.
Ultimately, setting a time limit is really designed to allow our children to explore the fullness of their world and not just the technological aspect. While the two hour time limit might be arguable for most parents, its important to focus on balance of time rather than a solid number. Giving equal “time merit” to all facets of development will lead to happy, healthy and most importantly, well-rounded children.
Primary School Educator Perth,