A Healthy Digital Diet

Nov 03, 2015

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The advance in the Internet and technological capabilities has had numerous positive effects. Communicating, researching, and shopping are easier than ever before. However, parents and doctors are concerned about screen addiction in children.

It is a challenging topic for parents as many are trying to moderate screen time. According to psychologist, Kimberly Young, abstinence is not the answer nor is it reasonable.  

Technology is as much a part of your child’s life as eating is; but children need to be taught how to maintain a healthy digital diet.  The key to developing healthy digital habits is to establish practices from the beginning.  Below are guidelines for how to regulate technology use during every phase of childhood.

Ages 0 to 3

This time is crucial for children to develop essential sensory-motor skills. They cultivate these skills best by playing with other children and actual toys. During this phase, children should have zero time on devices. It can impair communication skills and hinder attachment to close family members.

Ages 3 to 6

Let your child use technology for educational purposes only. At these ages, children may be allowed to use devices for one hour each day. Parents need to remember that tablets and iphones aren’t babysitters. Children should always be under adult supervision.

Ages 6 to 9

At this age, children are ready to have screen time for recreational purposes.  However, it is crucial that screen time be linked to bonding experiences with the family.  Appropriate family screen activities may include Wii or Xbox Kinect. Limit time to two hours a day.

Ages 12 to 18

Warning: these will prove to be the most difficult years between parents and teens (regarding screen time).  With smartphones it can be hard to manage their screen time. If parents allow unrestricted use, it is important to keep open communication about their teen’s online activities.

For parents who would like to apply time management features to devices, Net Nanny offers this software.  

Ultimately teens should continue to hang out with friends,  hold jobs, and be involved in school.  These habits and guidelines will help shape their online behavior into adulthood. 


** The information used in this article is from the New York Times