Today’s technology period and our children have been meeting digital technologies since the day they were born. Since infancy, they can spend their hours in front of devices such as televisions, tablets, computers first with their mobile phones in their parents’ hands. As parents, we want them to stay behind technology. We watch with amazement and admiration that they adapt quickly to the devices in their hands. On the one hand, turning on the TV or giving a device to your hand and having fun on their own makes it easier from time to time.
However, scientific studies point to the relationship between excessive media use and delay in language development, learning and social skills, lack of attention, focusing problems and sleep problems, especially in the 0-6 age period. Also, exposing our children to inappropriate content in an uncontrolled virtual environment can only be a click away.
For this reason, it is very important for the healthy development and safety of our children that we, as parents, pay attention to a number of factors, both in terms of time and content, according to the age and developmental characteristics of our children. Here are some things you can pay attention to for your child to use digital technology;
- Do not allow your child to use media for up to 18 months. In the early years when brain development is very fast and critical, what babies need is that it interacts with adults and objects around it. However, the screen is a one-way warning. It is very critical for your baby to have an eye contact with you, to listen to you, to imitate you, to show and respond to the sounds he makes, to physically discover, act and play around him, for healthy social, emotional and mental development.
- After 18 months, limit your child’s daily media usage (television, tablet etc.) to a maximum of 1 hour. Accompany your child during this time by making references to the content being watched. Because, children may not perceive what they see on the screen like adults and may not distinguish between dream and reality. They may also take an approach to imitate what they see and hear. While your child is watching digital channels, chat with him and discuss the correctness / wrongness of the messages given with your child.
- Choose educational content for your child that will increase creativity and problem solving skills, support social emotional and language development, emphasize values such as empathy, tolerance, model positive interpersonal relationships, and do not contain violence and fear. Make sure that the programs he watches are appropriate for the age and development of the digital games he plays. To do this, make sure you take advantage of smart signs, where you can learn both age and content categories.
- Adjust the internet security settings of all the devices your child uses to protect them from inappropriate content. Have your child use the devices in the common areas of the house. Thus, you can keep track of what your child is watching and what content they are exposed to.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 1 hour before your child sleeps and do not store them in your child’s room. Because the blue light emitted from the screens can delay the secretion of the hormone “melatonin”, which indicates that it is time to sleep, and make it difficult to fall asleep and disrupt the sleep cycle.
- Finally, perhaps most importantly, set an example for your child by reviewing your own media use habits and limiting your use. We should not forget that the most important role model of our children is us as their parents, and our children learn life by watching and imitating us.