Digital Challenge: How to Bring Children and Parents on the Same Page

A 2022 study on children’s device usage published by Salvati Copiii Romania, explains how the world has changed in the past years and how technology has become part of their lives.

The study surveyed more than 2700 children aged 8-17 and found that 78% spend more than 4 hours per day on the internet, mostly using smartphones. The majority of their time online is spent watching content posted by other users (70%), playing games (70%), and using social networks (67%). Only 46% of respondents say they use the internet to get educational information.

The pandemic context increased the usage of devices in our daily actions, and schools adopted new ways of teaching remotely. Therefore, the line between the educational area and the entertainment zone became thinner and thinner.

The question: Who has the right balance?

Many parents are concerned about the impact of internet usage on mobile devices on their children’s development and behavior.

Psychologists have different opinions on children’s device usage, but they all agree that real interaction between human beings shouldn’t be replaced by virtual connections only. Different studies reveal the negative effects that devices have on children’s development, including potential impacts on social skills, attention, and cognitive development. The researchers recommend limiting the amount of time children spend on devices and encouraging alternative activities such as physical play and face-to-face interactions with peers and adults.

Psychologists don’t exclude the positive effects devices can have on children’s development when used in moderation and with adult supervision. They argue that devices can provide children with access to educational content and opportunities for creativity and self-expression. Additionally, devices can be useful for communication, collaboration, and learning for children with special needs.

Overall, most experts suggest that the key to maximizing the benefits of technology and minimizing the risks is striking the right balance between device use and other activities, as well as providing parental guidance and setting limits on device use.

The screen time debate

It isn’t unusual for children to fight with their parents over the usage of their devices, often controlled by adults through parental control apps. These apps often involve setting limits on device usage and monitoring children’s online activity. Children may feel that these limits are unfair or that their privacy is being invaded.

It is important for parents to remember that children’s digital habits are learned and that by setting healthy limits and providing guidance, they can help their children develop responsible and healthy habits with technology. The key is balancing the children’s need to explore and express themselves with the parents’ need to keep them safe is key.

Solution: Be ready to set an agreement

At SABS, this is our mission – focus on developing a system that allows open and honest conversations between parents and children about device usage and fosters the context for creating an agreement on what is appropriate. This can help children understand the reasons for parental controls and the importance of healthy digital habits and allow them to agree with their parents.

In the process, there are different stages that psychologists recommend following. Dialogue seems to be again the key to proper communication and agreement.

  • Discuss the importance of balance. Explain to your child that while using devices can be fun and educational, it is also important to balance screen time with other activities such as physical exercise, playing with friends, and spending time with family.
  • Share your concerns. Let your child know that you are concerned about the potential negative effects of excessive screen time on their health and development, such as lack of physical activity, poor sleep, and difficulty focusing.
  • Set a good example. Children often model their behavior after their parents, so it’s important to set a good example by limiting your screen time and engaging in various activities.
  • Use positive language and encourage them to find other activities they enjoy. Instead of just telling them “No” to screens, encourage them to try other activities such as playing sports, reading, or doing arts and crafts, and help them discover new interests and hobbies.
  • Be consistent and have a conversation. Make sure to have a conversation with your child, create a plan that works for both of you, and be consistent in enforcing the limits and rules you set.
  • Be present. Remember that it is the parent’s role to set healthy limits and provide guidance. Try to understand your child’s needs and cope with them.