There is no doubt that digital technology is an integral part of our lives and in the colder months when the weather can limit our time spent in the outdoors, the use of digital technology can be increased.
Digital technology and children is an area that most parents are actively engaged in and want to learn more about. How much time should they spend on devices? What sort of devices to use? What impact is this having on my child’s wellbeing? How can we use digital technology in a healthy and helpful way? These are all questions that parents are looking for answers on.
In this month’s newsletter we share some of the latest thinking on digital techonolgy for children.
If you are also interested in learning more about this evolving topic, we recommend visiting Dr Kristy Goodwin’s website which has some practical advice for parents and carers.
“As parents, I think we need to ditch the guilt about ‘screen time’ and instead have more open and direct dialogue about what constitutes healthy and helpful screen time (becaused not all screen time is equal)”.
Digital Technology and Relationships
Young children learn how to use digital technologies in relationships with other people, including the adults and peers in their lives. These relationships facilitate and influence children’s engagement with digital technologies.
Digital technologies can be used to support positive child–adult relationships. For example, adults and children can share positive experiences by co-viewing digital media, co-playing digital games and/or discussing digital media content together. Infants and toddlers often enjoy looking at digital photographs and videos of themselves, family members and peers.
Young children can also use digital technologies for purposeful communication in their relationships with adults especially family members that may not live close by.
Adults need to be mindful of their own screen habits in front of children as they will role model what they see. When adults are preoccupied with digital activities they might not notice young children’s social cues or requests for attention. These cues and requests are a fundamental part of relationship-building between children and adults. Adults can model self-regulated digital technology use during sustained social interactions with children.
Digital technologies can be used within child-to-child relationships in ways that create opportunities for social and emotional development. Research shows that many young children enjoy using digital technologies with others. Children are interested in sharing how they have learned to use digital technologies, and will often actively teach each other the functions of different technologies.
All families have different perspectives on digital technologies. An important area of partnership between educators and families is regular communication about children’s learning, development and daily routines as well as the families perspective on digital technology.
(Source: Early Childhood Australia Statement on young children and digital technologies, Sept 2018)
“Screen-based activities for children under two years have not been shown to lead to any improvements in health, intelligence or language development”.
Top 5 Tips for Managing Screen Time
- Parents need to be the pilot of the digital plane (and not the passenger) our children need guidance and direction about how to navigate the digital world and they’re needing that guidance from their parents. Parental engagement in your child’s digital life isn’t optional- we need parents to assume an active role.
- Keep devices out of bedrooms- research is confirming that digital devices in bedrooms delay the onset of sleep (blue light impacts on melatonin levels which causes sleep delays) and are also impacting the quality of children’s sleep (alerts and notifications are interrupting students’ sleep cycles). There are also mounting cyber-safety concerns if children have access to devices in bedrooms.
- Balance children’s’ screen-time and green-time- children still need outdoor, unstructured play. Time in natural sunlight may help to prevent myopia (near-sightedness) and is essential for brain function (time in nature allows for mind-wandering mode) and allows the brain and body to recalibrate after being hyper-aroused by screens.
- Focus on more than simply ‘how much’ screen-time children are accumulating each day. Instead of focusing exclusively on using time as a metric, parents need to also consider what, when, where, with whom and how screens are being used. Time is only one piece of the puzzle.
- Be mindful of your digital habits- children have mirror neurons and this means they’re literally wired to imitate. Parents need to be mindful of how they’re using digital devices, as parental digital distraction has resulted in increasing rates of childhood playground injuries and is changing child-parent interactions. I don’t suggest that parents need to abstain from using technology around their children, but they do need to model healthy habits.
(Top 5 Tips for Managing Screens in the Digital Age Source: Dr Kristy Goodwin)
To find out what media and apps are appropriate for your child have a look at the Australian Council on Children and the Media
Conversations and decisions around what is best for our children in the digital age are ongoing – at Explore & Develop, we are committed to keeping families engaged with these relevant discussions, whilst providing best practice in our services.
WHY EXPLORE & DEVELOP?All Explore & Develop services are individually owned and operated by committed franchise owners who have been carefully selected because of their dedication, skills and passion for ensuring that every child gets a great start in life.