According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans between the age of 8 and 18 spend on average 7.5 hours a day using some sort of electronic device, from smart phones to MP3 players to computers. "That, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad," says Dr. Richard Bavaria, senior vice president for education outreach for Sylvan Learning. "Balance, as in every other aspect of life, is key."
Follow these tips to keep your child's use of technology in balance:
- Your rules rule. Have clear guidelines for kids to follow. If you're unsure how to start, talk to trusted teachers at school, other parents in the community, or look at good online sites.
- Set time limits. For teens, two hours of screen time per day is OK, including schoolwork, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For elementary schoolers, it's less. No screens just before bedtime.
- Set place limits. Ban screens at dinnertime, for example, or when the family is having a discussion or enjoying family time together.
- Schoolwork comes first. Study and chores come before socializing and games.
- Be a role model. You're a role model in everything you do and say as a parent. Show how you're in control of tech, not the other way around: i.e. if you say no gadgets at dinner time, don't pick up the phone yourself.