Screens are everywhere today. In fact, you’re probably reading this on the screen you carry around with you in your pocket every day. This means that your toddler will grow up in this world too, which begs the question – what do young parents need to know about toddlers and the use of screens? Keep reading to find out!
1. Don’t use them too much
Before we go much further, it’s important to understand how much time a toddler should spend in front of a screen. For children between the ages of 1 and 3, experts recommend that they don’t exceed more than two hours of screen time in a day. However, there are of course certain exceptions to this such as long trips where entertainment options are limited or video calls with family.
2. Put boundaries in place
Boundaries will help to ensure neither you nor your child spends too much time in front of a screen. A great place to start is not having screens at the table. This instead should be set aside as time spent together as a family. Another tip is to make screens part of their daily routine. Perhaps you let them enjoy a free kids cartoon or two once they’ve eaten their lunch.
3. Show them the right content
Next, you need to be mindful of the content that you let them watch. Like food, there are things that are good for you, things that sit in the middle, and items that are probably best avoided. The same goes for children’s content. For example, there are certain cartoons that are designed to not only entertain your children, but teach them simple things like numbers, words, and other points that will help with their early development.
4. Choose educational apps
One of the best things about having a phone or tablet is the apps that you can enjoy on them. If you’re downloading apps for your children to use, take the same approach as you do with content – choose educational apps and games. This way, if you’re children are going to spend time on a device, it’s going to both benefit and entertain them as well.
5. Let them fall in love with other things
If you’re concerned about your child becoming obsessed with technology, it’s up to you to steer them in the right direction. Start by encouraging them to explore other forms of entertainment such as books, toys, games, and sports. You won’t be able to keep them away from screens forever, but what you can do is broaden their interests so they don’t always look to a screen for entertainment.
It also helps to lead by example. If your children see that their parents are glued to screens throughout the day, can you really expect them not to follow your lead?
6. Don’t use them as a fail-safe
Lastly, try not to be lazy as a parent. Screens are not the solution for every tantrum, moan, and use of the phrase “I’m bored”. Whilst they can certainly be useful, if you use them constantly as a fail-safe, you’ll be starting a very early addiction to screens. If you’ve taken your child to a restaurant and they’re restless, it’s probably because they want your attention – so try to interact with them, rather than simply giving them your phone so you can ignore them. Remember, their relationship with screens starts with you.
As we said, screens will inevitably play a large role in your child’s life. By following these tips, you can ensure that your role is positive, not negative.