You can’t go to school or a play date at the park without hearing someone mention screen time. Some parents move their eyes guiltily admitting that Sesame Street is the only reason they dine on the table. Others say they would never give their kids an iPad – after all, “Don’t you know screen time is bad for them?”
Children and technology is an issue that has left the world of parents divided. Parents and educators have heard that children’s screen time should be limited, but it doesn’t seem practical to avoid all technology in today’s digital world. Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations are still quite strict, limiting screen time for children ages two to five to one hour per day. Ideally, parents or educators would engage in this use of technology alongside children, a task that seems out of reach for adults whose time is already running out.
Statistics on the use of technology by children show that it is no longer a problem that parents can afford to ignore. A 2017 survey by Common Sense Media found that 42% of children ages 0-8 have their own tablets, a staggering increase from 7% in 2013. * Overall, children aged eight and over fewer spend on average more than two hours a day using a screen mount. *
Screen time for kids is a complex matter that requires more thought than just using the TV as a babysitter or wanting to avoid screen time altogether. We’re looking for expert advice and statistics to help you make the most informed decisions about tech and kids.
Is screen time for kids really that bad?
Despite all the negative press, technology can be a great tool that helps children learn and grow in their development. The problem isn’t necessarily with the screens themselves – it’s with their unintentional use, according to Brian Puerling, technology coordinator and curriculum specialist at the Catherine Cook school and author of the Teaching in the Digital Age series. . “Too often teachers and parents use it as a digital lollipop and as a way to pass the time so they can get things done,” Puerling says.
Rather than relying on passive screens to provide entertainment, a better approach is to allow children to engage with technology to enhance learning experiences. Puerling advocates using technology in a way that encourages creativity and collaboration in children, and other educators agree. According to PBS, nearly 75% of teachers say technology in the classroom motivates children to learn and helps educators respond to a variety of learning styles.
“Not all screen times are created equal,” as KidsHealth points out. They recommend choosing age-appropriate interactive apps and programs that you can use with children to encourage their learning. But how do you know which apps and other tech tools are best for which ages? We’ve broken it down into the following tech milestones for kids.
Technological milestones for different ages
With a little effort, it is possible to use technology thoughtfully to support the development of children. Take a look at these tech milestones for ideas for positive media use at any age.
Technological milestones for toddlers
While screen time is not recommended for children under 18 months of age, the AAP makes one exception: video calls. Video chatting with friends and relatives is recognized as “quality time to interact with others,” according to KidsHealth. Toddlers are not ready to use apps on their own, but with the help of adults they can be introduced to the idea of sharing, taking turns and using technology to encourage movement. and gross motor skills.
With those points in mind, here are some tech milestones to aim for with toddlers:
Use video conferencing apps to connect toddlers with family and friends far away.
Arrange a “video play date” between your kids and their friends.
Introduce the idea of taking turns by showing toddlers that one finger at a time can control a tablet or smartphone.
Join the kids at a dance party using kid friendly music apps.
Help toddlers use a dance choreography app, like Toca Dance ©
, to coordinate their own dance routine, and then follow in real life.
Technological milestones for preschoolers
Imaginative play and emerging creativity are a key part of the development of preschoolers. Contrary to popular belief, screen time doesn’t have to stifle creativity. In fact, Puerling found that certain apps can actually enhance the imaginative play of this age group.
“It’s really important to have conversations with kids about what we can use the technology for: create videos, take photos, and then give them our own creative touch,” Puerling says.
Here are some ways to use technology to encourage creativity and collaboration:
Use stop-motion video technology (such as the I Can Animate © app) to encourage kids to bring a story to life using clay figures or other toys.
Bring the kids together as digital pen pals and hone their teamwork skills by having them write and animate a collaborative story using an app like ChromaKids ©.
Encourage kids to write and act in their own theatrical productions by filming their adventures on stage, then adding special effects and even a soundtrack to create the final film.
Technological milestones for elementary school students
“There’s a lot of talk about the skills that will be needed in the job market,” says Puerling. While no one can predict exactly how the technology will continue to develop, Puerling believes that creativity, collaboration, problem-solving and coding skills will benefit children as they age, all skills developed in children. elementary school students. Now is also the time to encourage emerging children’s literacy.
Elementary school is a great time to use technology to improve these skills using techniques like these:
Introduce kids to programmable robot games like Robot Turtles © and Cubetto © – no screens needed, as kids will learn directional programming through movement.
Use drag-and-drop apps, like Daisy the Dinosaur ©, to introduce coding basics and develop literacy skills by introducing high frequency words.
Offer interactive e-books or videos with captions to capture children’s curiosity and promote early literacy.
Technological milestones for tweens
Pre-teens are digital natives who may be even more comfortable with technology than the adults and the teachers who educate them! They might have their own smartphones and are about to use social media, but that doesn’t mean you can stop using technology in an educational way. “It’s not just for games. It’s not just to take time, ”Puerling says.
These tips will help you engage tweens with technology while ensuring they expand their learning:
Gain children’s attention for learning by encouraging them to research their natural interests and hobbies using resources such as videos, websites, and e-books.
Continue to support children’s creativity with programs that allow them to create their own music or draw their own comics.
Increase children’s geographic awareness and spatial reasoning skills with the help of interactive online maps.
Children and technology: an educational combination
There aren’t many clear right or wrong answers when it comes to children and the use of technology. But by following these tips and being intentional with screen time for kids, you’ll prepare them to become lifelong learners who use technology as a tool to expand their learning and sharpen their skills.
Speaking of sharp skills, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to get a head start on their peers by mastering the basics of coding at a young age. To learn more about the benefits of using screen time to learn coding skills, read our article “Coding for Kids: The Benefits of Starting Computer Education at a Young Age”.