To all the mothers and fathers out there, it is important to preface this conversation by reminding you of great things you are doing for your children, notwithstanding the challenging situation we have been facing for over a year now with the Covid-19 pandemic.
In all honesty, there is no right answer when it comes to managing the screen time kids spend using various different technologies, as this varies depending on the day, the child’s age, their interests and extracurriculars, and their access to technology at school and at home. That being said, the important questions to ask when it comes to your child’s screen time are what your child’s relationship to technology is and what they are using it for.
Starting with the relationship your child has with technology, we need to remind ourselves that technology is not going anywhere. In fact, it is becoming increasingly crucial and normalized to implement various technologies into our daily routines and activities. Consider the smartphone, for instance, replacing or deeming obsolete countless products and gadgets such as the camera, radio, newspaper, calculator, clock, calendar, the list goes on.
To reiterate, technology is here to stay and will prove to be one of the most important tools in your child’s life. Parents must be careful not to villainize technology. By painting excessive screen time in a negative light or punishing your child for spending too much time on their device, this does not deter them away from using technology. Instead, this villainization eventually transfers to them in the form of guilt and shame.
It is not the parent’s job to be an authority figure in this situation; however, it is necessary for parents to start conversations about the topic of healthy screen time and technology usage. The aim with these conversations is to help kids understand what the internet is and how it works, as well as allowing them to form their own conclusions and make their own discoveries. A simple example of this is the dreaded click bait. By talking about the unsafe or unusual things that exist on the internet, this will open your child’s eyes to some signs to look out for or avoid when using various technologies.
By educating yourself and your children on the ways in which social media and certain technologies are designed to create addictive behaviours, you will be better able to discern and identify when productive screen-time turns unproductive or manipulative. Trusting kids with their personal screen time will empower them to make future responsible choices.
With regard to the second question – what is your child using technology for? – we are moving away from setting a particular limit for screen time and towards more productive uses of this time. Often when we think of screen time, our minds immediately go to the risks and uncertainties associated with technology and social media. We completely disregard the potential that technology offers to children in the realm of extracurricular education, continuous learning, and skill development.
Technology is an incredible resource for children to have that is convenient for them in a variety of situations; learning, creating and communicating being at the top of the list. With such vast and diverse amounts of information at their fingertips, kids nowadays can pursue practically any hobby, sport, instrument, art, or interest from the comfort of their own home.
The developmental benefits offered by technology are undeniable. It is therefore important for parents to guide their children in exploring and understanding these opportunities while implementing them in healthy and productive ways. Our aim here is to empower this bright next generation to use technology for growth and creativity, as opposed to villainizing screen time in the household.
Build a Biz Kids is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver that provides youth of all backgrounds with access to practical education, preparing them for a continuously evolving world. BBK Network is the online learning platform of Build a Biz Kids that was launched following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the last Wednesday of every month, Leah Coss, CEO of Build a Biz Kids, offers a free seminar to anyone who is interested. The next topic of discussion is Healthy Screen Time, happening on March 31st, 2021. Register here.