Internet addiction is a real problem in our society today. On average, children are spending 7 or more hours a day on some kind of electronic device; which is equivalent to a full time job. Although internet addiction differs from substance abuse, it is a real addiction that interferes with our daily lives. Our children are being bombarded with the use of technology from the time they wake until the time they sleep, yet technology itself is not the problem, but rather authority figures not setting guidelines or regulating its use, causing personal, family and academic problems.
As parents we must stop and ask ourselves these simple questions:
- At what age should we introduce technology to our children?
- How is the use of technology affecting our kids?
- Where and how do we draw the line?
The answer is at our finger tips, we have access to so much knowledge with just a click of a button. Kidshealth.org is one website in particular that has been shown to be very helpful when trying to answer those exact questions.
Although technology provides us with so many amazing tools, it is our job as adults and authority figures to help our children and teenagers maintain a healthy digital diet without being over bearing or scared because of our lack of knowledge when it comes to technology. A German comedian by the name Reggie Watts once said, “Technology is a wonderful tool, but also if used incorrectly a horrible one” (Watts).
Below is a schedule or guideline that might be helpful:
Children ages 0-2 According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids under 2 years of age should not watch any TV: “The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development.” Too much screen time could impair social communication, development and affect a child’s attachment to his or her family members.
Children ages 3-6: Between the ages of three to six, children should be able to explore the use of technology no more than an hour a day, but not without parental supervision.
Children ages 6-9: From the age of six through nine, recreational screen time should be a family bonding time and the use of internet should always be supervised.
Children ages 9-12: From the age of nine to twelve there should be no more than 2 hours of screen time a day.
Teens: From the age of twelve to eighteen; which are the most quarrelsome years, you should have your teen keep a log of their internet usage so they can see for themselves how much time they spend on the internet.
This is one way to regulate our children’s use of technology; however, not the only way. Some parents might have a better method that works best for their family. Whatever they choose, there needs to be regulations.