Being a kid in the 90’s and early 2000’s was a pretty fun time for me. Video games evolved, cell phones got cameras (remember the Razr?), and social media only happened on desktop computers. And my poor parents were trying to keep up with it all…
Fast forward 10-15 years… We have video games with 4K graphics, virtual reality that can take us anywhere, and cell phones that run our social media while brandishing a camera equivalent to a Canon DSLR. It’s insane. I’m a huge fan of technology and I still have a hard time keeping up. Meanwhile, Eli, who is only 18 months old, can already grab his blanket, sit on the couch, turn on the Apple TV, and navigate to Spongebob on his own…
So, what now. I’m in the same position my parents were. Technology is advancing with no signs of stopping and Melanie and I are supposed to guide our children through it all… So what do we do as parents? We can’t stop our kids from using it and we can’t always protect them from the potential dangers it contains.
As I was a little lost myself… I figured I should turn to one of the experts. Dr. Randy Kulman (Ph.D.) suggests in his book, “Playing Smarter in a Digital World,” video games, apps, and other technology can be a HUGE asset to a child’s development. If used properly. He recommends that we help our children find games that help improve critical thinking, planning, and creativity.
But the big question still remains… How much “screen” (or digital) time should we give our kids? Here are a few items Dr. Randy Kulman provides to help answer this question:
1. Build a Proper “Play Diet”
A “Play Diet” is parallel to a well-balanced food diet. We know that even eating too much of a good thing can be detrimental to our health and not give our bodies all of the nutrients we need. The same applies to our personal development. We need ample amounts of social, physical/active, creative, and digital time to become well-rounded individuals in the 21st century.
2. Develop Multiple Interests
A great way to ensure that our children don’t get too much screen time is to help them develop multiple interests. Have your children try sports, dance, music, coding, reading, photography, or anything else you think they might like. This will then make it easier to suggest doing one of those other activities they enjoy when you feel they have spent too much time on digital media.
3. Be Adaptive (with Screen Time)
Being adaptive is key to helping your children thrive in today’s digital society. Many parents try different techniques to control screen time. Examples of these digital media schedules include: setting a time limit, only after homework is done, only on weekends, or they may not set a restriction at all. Every child is different. Mold your strategy to what will work best for your child and also be flexible when certain circumstances arise (like long road trips or holidays). Notice how your child reacts to various techniques and adapt. Keep in mind that more structure will be needed for younger kids. Then, over time, you can loosen up as your kids grow older and learn to regulate their own schedule.
** See Chapter 8 in Dr. Kulman’s book for details about when each of the various strategies would be most effective for different personality types
4. Set the example
Plain and simple. If you don’t want your child spending a lot of time on THEIR phone, computer, or video game, then you shouldn’t be staring at YOUR devices all day.
In short, I’ve learned a ton from reading through “Playing Smarter in a Digital World.” Though I’m sure what I have read only skims the surface on the topic … I feel much more informed and prepared than before.
What are some of the strategies that you have implemented in your household? Let me know in the comment section below.