With advancements in technology, it is easier than ever before to get access to an electronic device such as an iPad, Kindle, smartphone, or tablet. Because the accessibility to these products are abundant, it is not unlikely for a parent to allow their child to use a device. In fact, there are many great learning apps, websites, and platforms that encourage children to learn about developmental topics that are pertinent to their age group.

While devices can be used in a positive manner to encourage growth, learning, and development, there are also challenges to too much “screen time.” This article will highlight some ways that parents can promote responsible device use so that they can keep their child safe and help them to maintain a well balanced life.

Limit device or “screen time” and set up consistent usage guidelines or rules

Believe it or not, kids want structure. They look to their parents for guidance as to what is good and bad behavior. If you do not give your child parameters on how to properly use their device, this could come back to haunt you in the long run. Here are some ideas for how you can set up a consistent structure that will teach your child about using their device responsibility.

  • Set up a timeframe for when your child can use their device. Avoid allowing your child to use their device too close to bed time. Research indicates that using a device before bed can make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Discuss with your child who they can call, text, or converse with on their device. The internet can be an overwhelming place and many may be lurking in chat rooms, video games, or posing as other children in hopes of preying on an innocent child. You can prevent this however, by talking with your child and setting up parental controls on who they can talk to.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of spending time with others and help them make this a priority.

Encourage conversation with others

One of the best ways to do this is to enrol your child in childcare that encourages socialisation, learning, and offers unique experiences that will help your child learn and grow. Some of the positive effects to enrolling your child in a day school such as Harmony Early Learning Centre are as follows:

  • Consistent social interaction and creative play with others their same age.
  • The opportunity to go on field trips and experience new things with their mates.
  • Partake in healthy and nutritious meals on a regular basis.
  • Learn about others, develop skills, and develop resiliency and critical thinking skills by playing with others.

Help your child understand that by socialising and interacting with their peers in addition to using their device, will make for a well-rounded lifestyle. Encourage your child to invite friends from day school over to your home or out to a playground on the weekend. Consider getting involved in the parent group of the school so that you can meet other like-minded parents.

Together, you can make sure that device safety can also get into the curriculum at school!

Talk to your child about device and internet safety

Internet safety is important and if your child has access to a device, chances are high that they will also have the ability to access the internet. As a parent, it is important to set up privacy and parental controls.

You can limit the websites that your child can visit and this is a great way to ensure their safety. Help your child understand the reasons that you set up these parameters and talk to them about how they can be safe while using their device.

Share with your child the real dangers that come with using a device that connects to the internet.
In addition to sharing the dangers, share helpful tips as to how your child can maintain safety. Here are some examples to help you:

  • Avoid interactions with those you do not know while online.
  • Maintain privacy and never share personal information such as your home address, phone number, and real name.
  • Always stick to using your user name and keep your anonymity.
  • Share with your child that you can see comments and browsing history if it is necessary.
  • Make a list of people that your child can interact with online.
  • Teach your child how to block others. In fact, you can automatically place stringent parental controls on the device that prohibit your child from being contacted by those not on your list.

Use the device with your child and offer positive reinforcement

One of the things that children crave more than anything is quality time with their parents. Spending one on one time with a child is great for their self-esteem and makes them feel important and loved. Consider sitting with your child while they use their device. Perhaps you can play a game together or read a story together. By being involved with your child on their device, you can role model positive behaviours on how to best use the internet. Here are some ideas as to how you can use a device with your child:

  • Read library books together on the device.
  • Play games together.
  • Share photographs and videos with one another.
  • Communicate with family members or friends via social media or other platforms.
  • Encourage your child to practice their lessons and work on homework together.

Role model healthy behaviour

If you are on your device, video game system, or laptop constantly, your child will mimic your behaviour. Sure it is tempting to allow your child to play on their device all evening long as it provides you a bit of a break. However, doing so could inhibit their ability to socialise with others or critically think and use their creative brain to play with toys. Consider how much you use your device and think about limiting your time so that you can role model good habits for your child.

There are many ways that parents can promote responsible device use. Role modelling healthy device usage behaviour, using a device with your child, encouraging face to face social interactions, and limiting “screen time” can help your child understand proper device etiquette and responsibility.