The place of technology in our lives: Finding a balance

My kids

In this century, the mass media have come to rival parents, school, and religion as the most influential institution in children’s lives. – Media and Values Magazine

We all hear about the benefits of educational games and applications, but secretly we also worry about how much screen time is appropriate for our children. One of the questions we asked our  #XanderMoms touches on this tricky subject.

Technology can certainly make our lives easier, but it should be used in conjunction with other parenting skills. Common Sense Media has some sensible guidelines for handling time spent with media devices. Their four C’s involve judging your child’s screen time by using the following criteria.

  • Connection – does the activity engage and stimulate your child?
  • Critical thinking – does it encourage problem solving and critical thinking?
  • Creativity – does it encourage your child to contribute and build new worlds?
  • Context – can you use this activity to talk about the place of media and games in your child’s life?

We would like to add another C to this list. Make sure the rules you chose are consistently applied, as this will limit daily friction between parents and children fighting for the ipad. Needless to say you should also make sure that screen time is age appropriate, and that any content that  your children are exposed to is free from violence and advertisements.

When we asked some of our tech-savvy #XanderMoms how much they rely on technology to keep their children occupied, we found that monitored screen  time forms part of a healthy mix of other activities.

Leslie Maliepaard allows her daughter 30 min of TV/tech time a day. “The rest of the day involves getting out for fresh air or activities or playing at home or important family time. We emphasise family time with her and always aim to do something fun with dad, mum and herself.”

Tanya Kovarsky says “My son has an iPad which has a mix of educational, infotainment and entertainment apps and content. It hasn’t necessarily replaced learning, exercise and interaction, but it’s supported it.” She sees technology as a means of enhancing and supporting her son’s learning and entertainment.

We know that our children love to spend time on tablets and computers, but it is up to us as parents to provide guidelines and context for their screen time, as our two #XanderMoms do.

Image courtesy of Free Images.