In our last post we discussed how overuse of tech devices can affect a child’s psychological development. If they interact too much with the virtual world, they will tune out learning about their environment and the people around them. Taken to an extreme, kids can regard the real world as fake.
Some studies have even shown adverse structural changes in the brains of young children who are addicted to texting and electronic screens (TV, smartphone, tablets, or game boxes). Today we offer some helpful suggestions for parents and caregivers.
1) We are not suggesting cutting out technology from a child’s life, but working to strike a balance between the virtual and the real world. Family therapist and author Susan Stiffelman says parents should “guide our kids so that they can learn habits that help them make use of the digital world, without being swallowed whole by it.”
2) Kids learn many of their habits by imitating their parents and adults around them. Are you partially responsible if your child is screen addicted? In many cases, parents are setting a bad example, using their phone or tablet during meals and when they should be interacting with or watching their kids. Try to use your devices more when the kids are asleep or at school. When you are driving with your kids in the car, don’t use your phone. Talk with your kids instead.
The recent 20% increase in accidents seen in pediatric emergency room is believed to be mostly due to parents or caregivers paying too much attention to their own devices rather than, for example, keeping an eye on toddlers in the bathtub or children playing outside on jungle gym equipment.
So, before trying to fix your kids, take an honest look at yourself and how you are using electronic devices.
3) Instead of trying to pry children from their electronics, find good alternatives for them and for you as well. Physical activities are great, or involving the kids in hobbies that they might like. Find some real books that interest them and activities that involve you with your children.
4) The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines (2013) strongly discourage the use of screens for children below the age of 2 years. Their brains are rapidly growing and forming, and they should be interacting with people and their environment rather than the virtual world.
5) Enforce certain rules when screen use is prohibited, for example, during meals and at bedtime. Children should associate good food with nourishing interpersonal interactions and not with checking their cellphones.
6) If your child overuses TV, they shouldn’t have a television in their bedroom.
7) If you restrict your child’s screen time, be prepared for a backlash. If they are addicted to screens they will react, and probably not nicely.
Again family therapist Stiffelman says to be decisive and fearless, and “Acknowledge your kid’s upset without delivering long lectures about why they can’t have what they want…Children grow into resilient adults by living through disappointment. It’s O.K. for your kids to be mad, bored or anxious about missing out on what their friends are up to online.”
8) For older children, consider channeling their interest in electronics into areas that will be more valuable for them, such as learning programming, digital design, or animation.
Outsmarting the Smart Screens:A Parent’s Guide to the Tools that are Here to Help (Harvard School of Public Health)
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)