3 Important Things You Need to Start a Child-Friendly Internet Environment at Home

Not all screen time is bad for your little ones.
3 Important Things You Need to Start a Child-Friendly Internet Environment at Home

For today’s young families, the questions of when and how to introduce kids to the Internet and electronics are important matters of consideration. Increasingly, we see parents use tablets and smartphones as tools to keep children entertained, a far cry from common wisdom that screen timeor rather, too much of it—has adverse effects on kids and the early stages of their development.

Granted that numerous resources and applications online can help today’s young learners develop communication, research, and critical thinking skills among others, how can we make sure that it is these benefits the children would reap when introduced to the Internet? How can we properly regulate screen time and online access so that they may get the best of what the world wide web has to offer?

Quality sleep, active play

The World Health Organization recently released new guidelines on children’s physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep time. Experts reiterate the importance of regular exercise, reduced idle time, and quality sleep, especially among toddlers and young children, as these are crucial to their growth and development. Studies published in the Journal of Pediatrics, American Pediatrics and ScienceDaily have shown that falling short in instilling these through habit may run the risk of obesity, limited attention spans, and mental health issues as they develop into adolescents.

As such, the World Health Organization recommends regulated hours of screen time for children of different age groups. It’s fine to keep toddlers below four years old entertained with gadgets so as long as they don’t spend too many hours in front of a screen. Older children who use gadgets and the Internet for school, games, and personal learning are advised to balance time online with physical exercise and good sleep to maintain proper development.

Supervised screen time

Parents must also play an active role in supervising their kids' activities online. Not only will this make for quality bonding time with children, but it will also guide them through the things they learn online and protect them from malicious activities on the Web.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reminds that while educational cartoons and interactive learning applications can help improve a child’s thinking abilities, vocabulary, and social skills, many downloadable programs are not created with the guidance of child development specialists and may actually do more harm than good. Parents must pay particular attention to such applications and screen them thoroughly to ensure the best educational experience for their kids. Information also gets retained and processed easier by children when caregivers view and interact with them about the learning material. Moreover, it provides the opportunity for kids to talk and open up more to their parents, establishing healthy relationships in the process.

The AAP also advises that parents must make sure that their kids’ Internet use is a safe and secure experience. As kids are receptive to the content that they see, especially online, supervision is important to keep them safe from disinformation, explicit content, trolls, or poser accounts with ill intent. Ensure that privacy settings are set to help prevent these things. With older children, the AAP suggests gradually discussing with them the power of the Internet and the different types of content they may encounter online.

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This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Globe at Home.
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