It's no secret that children today are exposed to technology early and often. While technology can be a channel for learning essential critical thinking skills, developing healthy digital habits is just as important. We encourage parents to be part of that process—and not just set rules. Here are our top five tips to get you and your family off on the right foot with good technology habits:
- Set screen time limits (for everyone!)--Taking breaks from screens and devices is important for your child’s health, as well as your own. While there’s no one answer for how much screen time is safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children ages 2 to 5 be limited to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming. Consider limiting yourself as well, both to set a good example and to give yourself a break.
- Be safe and savvy--Safety starts early. Around age 6, begin to talk with your child about internet dangers and safe behaviors. Discuss the importance of passwords and maintaining privacy. Bookmark kid-friendly websites that teach safe usage and encourage open and honest conversations about kid’s experiences online. Commonsense.org has a great list of kid-friendly browsers and search engines to help kids get comfortable with the internet, safely.
- Play together--Setting aside time to use technology with your kids is a great way to discover what interests them, spend time together, and teach healthy habits along the way. There are tons of family-friendly websites, games, and apps out there, so parents can get in on the fun, too. And be on the lookout for events like Family Coding Day as well as those we offer through The Coding Space for ways to get involved and learn together.
- Practice good digital citizenship--Much like teaching your child to be a supportive and caring member of your community, being kind to others lies at the heart of being a good digital citizen. In addition to encouraging your child to be empathetic, teach them to stand up for others, flag inappropriate content, and think critically about what they read online. Establish a code of conduct--and hold the whole family accountable.
- Find a balance--Think of your family’s digital consumption as a diet and that old adage finds new meaning: everything in moderation. Exploring high-quality content is great, but finding a balance between spending time with technology and spending time with family and friends offline is important, too. That’s why we love Commonsense.org’s Family Media Agreement, which allows every member of your family to commit to making healthy choices when it comes to technology usage and digital consumption.