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Preventing Digital Damage

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Four tips for managing your kids screen time.

As many parents will probably agree with, the amount of time kids spend on their digital devises such as their iPads or smart phones is a major cause for concern.

Long gone are the days when children played hop scotch or even climb a tree.

A screen time study published recently in JAMA Pediatrics found a link between excessive screen time and later development milestones.

Christine Kyriakakos Martin, an early education expert and author of ‘You’ve Got This! Keys To Effective Parenting For The Early Years’ offers her top tips to prevent digital damage on children and for how parents can manage screen time.

Distinguish screen time from play time

Play is a fundamental learning tool for young children, but parents, Martin outlined, should not think of screens as toys for play time.

“When screen time is limited and separated from other types of play, parents show their children the importance of setting boundaries, using their imaginations, and being active.” She added.

Get involved

Parents who engage with their children about on-screen activities can help them increase their communication skills and teach them how to navigate digital media.

“Parents can talk with their children about the videos they watch and games they play like they would discuss characters and plotlines in a book,” Martin says.

“When there is parental engagement like this, a child’s vocabulary and literacy skills develop and family communication gets stronger.”

Make mealtimes screen-free

“Eliminate screens from the meal table, including when you’re out at a restaurant,” Martin suggested.

“While it can be tempting to pack the iPads to have some adult conversation while you’re out to eat, doing this doesn’t teach your children about manners, properly engaging in conversation, or being mindful of other patrons.”

Set a good example.

It will be harder for a child to disengage from screens if his or her parents are consistently looking down at their own phones or tablets. “Remember,” Martin highlighted, “your children learn from your example. If they see you spending a lot of time with your face in front of a screen, they’ll also want to use technology at the same time. Try your best to save your time on social media for your lunch break, during nap time, or after your children have gone to bed.

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