The Role Technology Plays in Childcare
When it comes to screen time, where should parents draw the line?
Parenting isn’t easy, and sometimes you need just 30 minutes to decompress. Digital devices, whether a smartphone, tablet, video game or TV, can be the ultimate sanity-savers when you need to keep your kids occupied. In moderation, tech time isn’t bad, but we know for certain that screens and people aren’t always the best pair.
Most parents struggle with knowing how much screen time is too much and where to draw the line. After all, digital devices don’t come with warnings or kid-friendly instructions. The more aware you are of technology’s benefits and drawbacks, the better equipped you’ll be to make an informed decision for your families.
The Case for Screen Time
Consider technology's advantages: Digital devices open the doors to a world of knowledge. Curious kids can get answers to their burning questions in just a matter of seconds and with a few keystrokes.
Smartphone apps offer endless possibilities for educational play, with games on practically every subject. Practicing math, science, literacy and language skills can all be accomplished with the touch of a button. Today’s world revolves around technology, and giving kids access to a tablet or smartphone can help them be more successful in the future.
With dance and exercise games, kids have the opportunity to get active even on rainy days. In moderation, digital devices offer kids a multitude of ways to learn and play that would have been impossible decades ago. Plus, under your watchful eye, kids can connect with their peers across the country through video games and even develop their social skills.
The Risks of Excessive Tech Time
Although the tech takeover has its pros, research shows just how bad excessive screen time can be. According to Dr. Nicholas Kardaras of the New York Post, tablets, smartphones and gaming systems are considered “digital drugs.” “Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex—which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does,” said Dr. Kardaras.
The long list of screen time's dark sides includes everything from weight gain, vision issues, focusing problems, depression and difficulty sleeping. When it comes to infants, digital devices have especially detrimental effects. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies under 18 months should not be exposed to tablets and smartphones. Exposure to screens causes babies to become over-stimulated, and it can make it difficult for them to bond with their parents.
Finding the Happy Medium
Although these side effects may sound intimidating, moderation is a simple fix. Finding a balance means embracing tech without overdoing it. A great way to limit your kids’ technology usage is to create “no tech time.” This can mean anything from banning phones during meals, until homework has been finished or even two hours before bedtime. During those hectic days when you’re tempted to occupy your kids with digital devices, try self-directed play instead. According to Mom Loves Best, playing independently is key for creativity, problem-solving and social skills—and can be as simple as setting your little one up with a puzzle or a DIY craft.
The car is another place where parents turn to tech to keep kids happy. Next time, try singing songs, playing road-trip games or packing picture books to make sure the kids are occupied. Make a habit of finding technology-free alternatives. Instead of a family movie night, opt for a board game night instead. Or try starting your day without cartoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The bottom line is that technology can be great for kids—in moderation. Screen time is OK, but making sure you’re aware of your kids’ time spent behind a monitor will help you to set responsible limits. Understanding the pros and cons will help you to make the perfect plan for your family!