Living in the technological era can put a lot of pressure on parents. Until the age of 18, and sometimes even after the age of 18, the level of responsibility your child has is unlike that of an adult.
Always remember that a lot of electronic gadgets are very expensive and are not necessary for your child’s education. When it comes to laptops, for example, most schools will provide them if they are necessary for your child’s academic performance. When it comes to digital entertainment, it’s your job as a parent to draw the line and decide what is the best for them.
If your child is a reader, you can get them an e-reader tablet. E-readers are typically comfortable to carry for children and will allow you to monitor the books your child is reading. As we continue to advance with technology, e-reading will most likely continue to be a great tool to help your child with reading. Using an e-reader is also a good way to help with conservation and decreasing the use of paper.
Young children are typically not responsible enough to have a smart phone. When your child is older and more mature and has an appropriate level of understanding of the value of these objects, it might be OK.
If you do permit your child to use or own these devices, it’s a good idea to set clear boundaries. Don’t allow your children to use these handheld devices at dinner time. This could lead to your child missing important family moments or participating in conversation. In addition, the use of screen time for children should not be more than two hours a day, combining all technology devices together. This can be a hard goal to stick to, but spending more than two hours a day staring at screens can increase the chances for your child to have learning disabilities, disorders and obesity.
Always make sure to review ratings for video and computer games. Do not let your child play with games that are not appropriate for their age.
Another important boundary to set is to monitor your child’s online activity with a new computer, tablet or phone. Don’t let your child connect with strangers and make sure they understand that you will be keeping an eye on their Internet activity. Don’t let the social media industry be your child’s babysitter and eventually take control of your family, your money and what is most valuable of all: your children.
C. Marila Taveras began medical school at age 16 and has been in practice for 15 years. She received her training at a Cornell University-affiliated hospital in New York City and was a researcher at Columbia University. She is the supervising pediatrician at Tooele Pediatrics.