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If you feel like you’ve lost control of your family’s screen time and digital consumption, you’re not alone. Healthcare professionals and technology leaders have seen a tremendous rise in technology use among children and adults. One recommendation they have to help monitor your family’s digital device use is by creating a family media plan.
Here are 8 key areas to focus on as you build out a plan that works for your family:
A Healthy Balance
Technology is here to stay and it’s going to continue to grow at a phenomenal rate. Finding a healthy balance between digital-use and when to put the technology away will keep your family connected to one another on a deeper level. Less screen time will give you more time to connect, play outside, experience new things and explore your neighborhood.
Screen Free Zones
Designate certain areas of your home to be screen-free. As a family, make an agreement that you will not use phones, tablets, games or computers in these areas. That means no charging either. Designate a charging area for all electronics. Key tech-free zones include:
- Child’s bedroom
- Kitchen table or dining room table
- The family room
Screen Free Times
Make it a habit to have certain times of the day that are tech-free. This will give you a chance to discuss your day, catch up on what happened throughout the day, and wind down for the day. Key times can include:
- On the way to school in the morning
- On the way home from school
- The first hour after getting home from school
- Meal times
- One hour before bedtime
Designate a time of night that all phones and tablets must go to sleep. By setting a curfew time, your family will get into a habit of retiring their devices to their charging station every night at the same time and trigger the start time for their own bedtime routine.
Quality Media Selections
The quantity of media available to your family is astonishing. Together with your children, choose quality media that you both can agree on. Delete any apps that are not educational or do not have a parental setting option. When you enjoy media time as a family, engage with your children and the games they’re playing or videos they’re watching. Show an interest and ask questions.
Digital Censorship and Safety
Cyber space can be a dangerous place in more ways than one. Start the conversation early with your children and educate them on the right and wrong way to use technology. They should know how to spot trouble, how to react to strangers, when to report bullying and how not to be a bully. As a parent, check in with your child often and ask questions so that you can spot the signs early and address accordingly.
Sleep & Exercise
Technology can never replace the physical activity that your child’s body needs and craves. Digital down time will allow your child to be active and play, boosting the body physically and mentally. Sleep is also very important to a growing child. Devices in the bedroom compete for your child’s attention, keeping them up later and affecting their quality of sleep. Creating the bedroom to be a tech-free zone at bedtime will give your child a better night’s rest.
As you build out your media plan, keep in mind that this is a working plan that should be updated throughout the year as your family’s schedule changes. It’s important to create your plan as a family and get your children’s input. You may be surprised at how much time they are willing to and want to spend away from their devices.
Your Pediatrician Can Help You Build Out a Media Plan That’s Right for You
Children’s Medical Center can be a valuable resource for any questions you have when it comes to creating healthy bonds with your children. If you need help creating a media plan, we are happy to help lead you in the right direction. Call us today and schedule a consultation.
Modeling healthy phone habits for our children can be challenging. Oftentimes, your phone is used for work, ordering groceries, checking the weather, nearly everything you do can be done on your phone. We are more connected now than we’ve ever been. However, all that connecting may be hurting your actual connection with your children and their ability to learn.
Here are 4 reasons to put down your phone:
- Positive feedback builds self-esteem. Children are constantly learning and they want to show you what they’ve learned. They thrive on your reaction. By responding with positive attention — a smile, a laugh, words of encouragement and affirmation — you are building their confidence and encouraging them to keep trying.
- Eye contact creates a stronger connection and emotional impact. This is especially important with babies. You can see a baby light up when you make eye contact and talk to them. That contact is vital to their brain growth and development.
- Talking to your child builds brain power. Children learn by watching and you set the example for what they’re picking up. Communication and social skills are developed through listening, talking, reading, singing and playing with their parents. That’s hard to do when you’re on the phone.
- Your child is your priority. When a child is competing for your time and attention, they can feel unimportant. Children learn how to interact with others and how to love others by watching their parents. It’s based on how their parents and caregivers love them, teach them, and encourage them.
So, what can you do as a parent to change your digital phone habits?
- Designate tech-free times. Make it a daily habit that you do not use your phone for certain periods of time. For example, mealtimes, bath time, or even designate certain rooms as tech-free, like your child’s bedroom.
- Plan tech-free outings. Quality time can create memories that will last a lifetime. Yes, you want to get that picture, but not every moment of every outing needs to be documented. Try to make some outings digital-free and be present in the moment.
- Use technology effectively. There will be times that you have to be on your phone in front of your children. Include them in what you’re doing. Talk to them about what you’re doing, what you see, ask them questions about it. Create a dialog that shows them you care about them and they are more important than your phone.
Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Speech and Language Development?
Children’s Medical Center can help answer any questions you have, address any concerns and perform an assessment to evaluate your child’s development. Call us today to set schedule an appointment.
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