Should parents limit how much time their children spend on their tech devices?

Our child psychologists express some concerns about the long-term impact of a lot screen time, but acknowledge tablets and other technologies have some benefits.

The bottom line is that parents do need to take charge and make informed decisions on how they’re going to let their children use tech devices, and for how long.

Child psychologist and mom Britlan Malek, PhD, advises against choosing appropriate apps and products based on companies’ claims, as they usually aren’t based on any real research. Instead, think about the real educational benefit of the product. For example, there is no reason for a 6 year old to learn the periodic table.

Here are some tips for setting limits when using iPads and other devices:

  • Screen times need to be given as specific, predetermined time
  • Never give the tablet in response to behavior
  • Never give it as reward
  • Never give it as a way to keep the child quiet

And what about for long trips, when children have to sit still for long periods of time? Dr. Malek says it’s ok to use the ipad or other technology, but setting limits is still important. She suggests allowing children to use the tablet for 30 minutes, then offer them something to read, play games together, or do some other family activity.

And one other point Dr. Malek stresses: consistency is key. Parents need to maintain the rules with the technology, and the children will follow along.

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