Managing Technology and Screen Time at Home

Technology has become a huge part of our lives. If you’re a parent, it is an even bigger part of students using devices at home for homework. Between the many different social media platforms, school devices, gaming systems, YouTube, and all the other information you read about online it sometimes feels overwhelming to know what’s appropriate and what isn't for your child.  As a parent, you often wonder:   What counts in screen time? When my child is online doing homework or educational games is that screen time?  What about watching TV?  How much is too much?
 
In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its screen time recommendations and now encourages parents to focus on the content on the screen itself. The AAP recommends limiting recreational and entertainment screen time to one to two hours per day for children over age two (source). The AAP also points out that we need to be mindful of all screen time which includes television, gaming units, cell phones, tablets, and computer screens.  The AAP does not have a recommended is no screen limit for educational content and use. More tips from the AAP about children and media.
 
Experts agree that it is important to talk with your child about the overall amount of entertainment screen time consumed. If necessary, you may want to goals for reducing entertainment screen. The AAP Media Planning Tool is a great resource that can help you develop a Media Plan for your family.   
 
Experts suggest having children surf the internet in a central place at home, such as the kitchen or family room, rather than away from adult supervision or behind a closed door. Know what your child is doing with technology and how his or her time is being spent. Technology can be a great tool and resource, but also has the potential to be a distractor. Help your child learn to focus on completing tasks or assignments first before spending time on games,  and other activities. Teaching today’s children how to manage multiple sources of information and potential distractions is a critical life skill, one best learned before heading off to college or the workplace.
Several tips for managing technology at home. 
  • Lead by Example – It is hard for children to respect rules about limits to technology when parents are also continually on their phones or devices.  These days we can do just about anything from our phones, including search the web, play games, catch up with friends on social media, read the news, text, get directions, and actually call people.  Your child needs to see you as a role model when it comes to the use of technology in the home.
  • Schedule Low-tech or No-tech Times – Parents should establish clear expectations for when it is okay and not okay to use technology in the home. Keep mealtime screen and device free.  Establish times during the week for the family to connect with each other and not be distracted by sports scores, breaking news, Minecraft, Snapchat, or text messaging. 
  • Don't use Tech with your Child Before Bedtime - Many parents use technology as a way to calm their child, and often before bed.  Screens can actually stimulate their brains and make it harder for kids to go to sleep, and stay asleep. Find other quiet activities such as reading a story together or quietly reading a book. The device should not be in the child's bedroom where use is unsupervised, especially during the nighttime hours.  (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Screentime Shouldn't be Alone TimeCo-view, co-play, and co-engage with your children when they are using screens.  Be curious about what your child likes to do online, so that you can learn more about their interests   Ask them what they like,  what they consider okay and not okay in terms of web content, and help them develop good habits when using the internet. Even the most tech-savvy teens need adult guidance when online.  It is important to help your child make the best use of time online (The Harvard Gazette).
  • Friend and Follow Your Child and Their Close Friends on ALL Forms of Social Media –  Your child may not like it, but it is important for you to know what they post online.  Talk with your child and help them understand how to create an online presence post responsibly. and appropriately for their age.
  • Set Clear Logical Consequences if the Rules for Technology are Broken – When establishing rules, talk with your child about the rules and the consequences when they are broken.  Kids will be kids and will make mistakes when using technology.  Try to manage such situations with empathy and turn these times into teachable moments. But some indiscretions, such as sexting, bullying, or posting about self-harm, may be an indication that your child is in need. Parents must observe carefully their children's behaviors and, if needed, enlist supportive professional help, including the family pediatrician or a counselor.  
 
iPad Content Filtering
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires that schools and libraries put measures in place that block or filter internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors.   Schools subject to CIPA have two additional certification requirements: 1) their Internet safety policies must include monitoring the online activities of minors; and 2) as required by the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, they must provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.
 
All Quaker Valley iPads have the Cisco Internet Connector app installed to filter the internet content that your child has access to on his/her QV iPad.  This app provides content internet filtering according to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPPA).
Technology at Home FAQ:
 
How much screen time is OK for my child? 
 
Are some types of screen time better than others? 
 
What's the right age to get my child a tablet?