Four steps - from experts - to give your child a healthy relationship with technology

Parenting comes with a million and one decisions and, for every generation, there’s a set of them to be made. I’ve been thinking this week, about Millennial parents. A quick Google search tells me Millennials are the parents of around 50 percent of the world’s current population of children. 

Among the vast quantity of new decisions Millennial parents will be making is one that their own parents probably didn’t think about too hard - screen time. Of course when Millennials were being brought up there were screens but one household TV - with programmed shows - is nothing compared to multiple smartphones, tablets, interactive toys, gaming consoles and streaming services. I’m certain many Millennial parents often find themselves searching things like “Is it safe for a toddler to play with a smartphone?” 

Like all parenting decisions this one is down to the individual but for anyone that is after some expert suggestions on the subject, below I've pulled together some information both from my own work and others to help you figure out whiat's best for your child.

  • Fake light at night - At nighttime, science has proven, your child needs an absence of blue light, which comes from all iPhones, Androids, TVs, computers, iPads and some toys - basically all artificial light sources. This removal of artificial light will allow your child to begin developing melatonin which will make them sleepy and ready for bed. So choose a time (perhaps an hour or two before bed) that is ‘screens down time’. This is a good rule in general for all people, not just children, but if you, as an adult, can’t hack it try at least putting screens on “night mode” or “blue light filter”.
  • Movement vs sedentary screen time - Last year the World Health Organisation recommended parents should encourage children to engage in more movement and less sedentary time looking at screens. It’s about striking the right balance. Read the full report here. 
  • Consider what your child is engaging with - Watching Baby Shark for the 2,098th time is probably not doing much to educate your toddler but for a few moments peace, what’s a parent to do? If possible try moving your child toward an educational app instead. Motherly has a great list here. 
  • Get involved - Ask your child questions about what they’re watching to provide more context and keep them connected to the real world. This New York Times article even suggests getting your child to watch a cooking video and then making the recipe with them. 

At the end of the day you're the parent and, like all the other choices, screen time comes down what’s right for your family. A last note to all you Millennial parents out there, if you’re feeling anxious about all these decisions read this lovely article in the Washington Post and stop beating yourself up, you’re doing great sweetie. x