Kids and teenagers spend a lot of time in digital media during the day. Common Sense Media found out that the average daily media use is up to 6 hours for younger kids and 9 hours for teenagers, excluding the time spent digital media for school work.
It’s noticeable how mobile devices dominated the study by accounting for nearly half (41%) of all time spent using a digital media among kids and teenagers. Whopping 53% of kids aged 8-12 were found to have their very own tablet, whereas 67% of teenagers aged 13 and older owned a smartphone.
Different types of use
Using smart devices like tablets and phones isn’t always a waste of time. There isn’t just one type of activity you can use them for and that’s why you need to pay attention to what the device is being used for.
- Passive consumption: watching videos, reading, and listening to music
- Interactive consumption: playing games, using educational apps and browsing the Internet
- Communication: chatting by video or text and using social media
- Content creation: using devices to create digital art, music or for writing texts
On top of that there are also different kinds of content that you need to pay attention to. Not all content is equal: games can teach different things, videos can be either informative or simply for fun and texts contain either facts or fiction. It’s your responsibility as a parent to teach your kid critical thinking and media literacy, since they don’t necessarily teach these vital skills in elementary schools.
Social use of tablets and smartphones teach your kid social skills in the digital world, but not in real life. This is why there should be a balance between learning these skills in the real world and learning them in the digital world.
Too much use will cause an addiction
The digital world inside tablets and phones connected to the Internet is really the richest place on earth when it comes to fun and games. There’s literally millions of free, quality apps designed to entertain and keep the users hooked. There are also hundreds of millions of videos and images out there that contain just about anything.
How does your kid act when you tell them it’s time to put off their device and have a lunch together or start doing their homework or go to bed? If it’s a constant struggle, then you really should consider cutting down on the device use or even putting a stop to it completely, just to wean your kid off of it.
Signs of smartphone or tablet addictions are similar to those of any other addiction: anger, tension, depression, irritability and restlessness. Homework and other responsibilities get ignored and there are sleep difficulties.
Set limits to keep it healthy
It’s almost certain that without any limits or monitoring, smartphone or tablet use will become a real problem. To keep the smart device use healthy and beneficial, you should set limits and schedules based on what works for your family. There should be weekly limits for each device and especially what those devices are used for. Stay actively involved in your kid’s smartphone and tablet use, so you can teach them critical thinking and media literacy in addition to self-regulation.
Big part of the problem isn’t just the use, it’s what it’s being used for.