Growing Up Digital - May 2021

The past 14 months have opened the door to a new set of struggles with distance learning, video chatting and a lot of time at home. While some kids are back at school, many still spend free time on various social media sites watching videos, gaming or communicating with friends. There’s a reason that organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association urge parents to adhere to guidelines for screen time. Excessive screen time can lead to eye problems, weight problems, and can lead to an increased amount of sedentary behavior and isolation. But as technology becomes more and more a part of everyday life, it is important to help teach kids how to be responsible digital citizens. There are many lessons to be learned by being intentional about technology use in our daily lives. 

Self Regulation: Kids (& adults!) can practice self regulation by deciding ahead of time how long they will spend on their device, and then sticking to it! Mom and daughter playing on an ipad

Learning: There are plenty of educational opportunities so rather than a mindless cartoon or game, choose shows, games or videos with a learning component. If you are unsure if it is educational, ask yourself these questions: Does it build skills? Does it encourage thinking skills? Is it age appropriate? Who created it? 

Time together: Join in the fun with your child! Learn about what interests them. Challenge them to a game or two! Even technology can provide an opportunity to build a deeper connection.

Conversation: Open communication is essential in keeping kids safe online.Talk to them about appropriate online behavior. Set family guidelines that address safety such as not revealing any personal information, not responding to messages from someone you don’t know, always telling an adult about any scary or hurtful communication.

Technology is a tool that has added many positives to our lives but it also presents challenges. Being intentional and involved is essential in raising safe and digitally smart kids! For more information on keeping kids safe online visit McGruff Safe Kids or Safewise. To help determine if gaming and the internet are just a part of life or if they are taking over take the I’d Rather Inventory. If you have questions or need more resources, feel free to contact one of our Family Educators by calling 763-691-6691.