Deciding on Screen Time
Apparently screens do the work of the devil based on all the bad press surrounding them. Ironically you yourself must be looking at a screen to read this! Parents ask me what is acceptable for my child to watch on a screen, what age can my child have a phone, how much time should they be allowed in front of a screen? Before I get to that I want to defend children’s usage of screens briefly.
The reality is we live in a digital age in all parts of Ireland whether your in Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork. Computers are the present and the future. The internet today is what the Industrial Revolution was two hundred years ago. We need to be embracing the benefits of the internet and computers in general. Your child should be familiar with the possibilities, opportunities and threats which being in front of a screen can present.
Back to the questions. I remember asking myself the same questions not so long ago. Being unable to reach any kind of acceptable conclusion I did what any modern parent would do – I searched the app store for the top rated parental control to download. It was while doing this I suddenly realised how lazy I was being seeking an app to do carry out my role as a parent. The irony of it all!
Only you as a parent can answer the opening questions. You know your child’s capabilities and limitations more than anyone. However here are a few guidelines to assist you –
- As the parent you are in control of the technology in your home, not your child, even if it doesn’t feel like this at times.
- Familiarise yourself regularly with the threats and trends relating to children and the internet.
- Have an agreed plan in place around times, sites etc. with your child.
- Screen time can be used as a reward.
- Number one tip, however, is to keep the lines of communication open with your child or teen. It is vital they know they can go to you for advice and information in particular around cyber bullying. They might never need to go to you but the key point is that they know they can.
More detailed information is available at webwise.ie and childrenofthedigitalage.com