The World Wide Web has expanded into more areas, activities, and topics than even the creators could ever have imagined. With this seemingly never ending expansion of technology has come both positive and negative side effects for parents to worry about. So what can a parent do to make sure that their child is being productive with their time? Here are a few ideas.
Things to Lookout For
Living in the age of technology is an exciting and scary time, especially for parents. Not only are there an endless stream of predators to be concerned about making contact with your children; children are now developing health concerns that are directly related to the amount of time spent on and the type of activities being done on the computer, such as stage 2 diabetes, childhood obesity, carpal tunnel, near sightedness, and the list goes on. Experts and health care provides have been warning the public for over a decade of the repercussions of spending too much time on the computer or online, however as a parent it can be difficult to monitor every second of your child’s day.
School Age Children
For parents of school age children one way to monitor the amount of time your child is spending online is to first start at school. Ask each of your child’s teachers about their computer and internet policies, how they track online activity and time spent online, and what types of programs and technology your child will be using. Calculate this amount of time into your child’s online schedule when creating your rules at home. Your children will obviously have to use the internet and computer for homework at times, but limit the amount of time spent playing video games, videos, searching “You Tube”, or scrolling through “Face Book”. Give your child a specific amount of time per day, or block of time in the day where they are allowed to zone out on these types of sites and activities and stick to the rules.
Encourage them to spend more time doing hands on projects, like riding their bike, juggling, growing vegetables, playing a board game, reading a good book, building a fort, or whatever other physical non-technology activity that may interest them. By doing this you will be promoting a much healthier lifestyle for your children as they grow up, extending their ability to focus on a specific task, decreasing their likelihood of developing health issues, and inspiring them to live a more rounded life.
Pre-School Age and Younger
Believe it or not there are three year olds out there who can work their mother’s phone better than their mother can. This makes sense since these children are being born into the age of technology and it is second nature to them as they are completely surrounded by technology in every aspect of their lives throughout this vital learning period of development. This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation though. By limiting the amount of time spent with computers, cell phones, and other technological items, as well as being selective as to the type of programs and sites you have available for your child to use, you can still have a technologically savvy child, without making them completely dependent on these machines.
There are a plethora of games and reading apps for kids available both for purchase and free online to keep your child engaged and learning while still having fun. Choosing products and sites that do double duty (teaching in an entertaining way) will cut down the amount of time spent online while also making it a more productive and fun learning experience.
Take the pre-emptive step towards keeping your child from wasting all of their time online by monitoring when, where, and how they are using technology; as well as choosing software and online sites for your children that fulfill more than one objective, such as fun and learning. If you take the time and effort to do so, you will find your child to be much more interactive, healthy, and happy.