Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?

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Screen time is a common battlefront between parents and children, from toddlers to teens alike. How much is too much? This is a burning question for parents. We spoke to Nina Bual from Blue Phish Cyber Security to discuss several cyber issues and recommend solutions during our Facebook Live session.

Studies have shown that too much screen time is harmful for children and have negative effects on their development and mental health. It also leads to poor academic performance and negatively impacts their behaviour. How do we reduce the time spent on devices and keep screen time under control? We review factors that parents should be mindful of and suggest ways to encourage the adoption of healthy media habits. You can also use this guideline for reference on recommended screen time. 

Social Platforms

As parents, we need to be aware of the social platforms our children are accessing and the risk factors involved. As much as we want to respect their privacy, we should also be mindful of the risks involved in accessing social channels. Some of the popular platforms children use are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok. Children are exposed to a multitude of content when they join these platforms, with some of them being explicit and inappropriate. The social platforms make them vulnerable as they are now exposed to all sorts of people and influence from across the world. Despite requiring a minimum age to sign up, children below the age of 13 are still able to create an account with a pseudo profile. Another worrying aspect of cyber behaviour is bullying, where technology is being used to harass, threaten and embarrass young people. As parents, it is important to be aware of the dangers that your child may be exposed to in the digital space and educate them of the difference between positive and negative experiences. It is also important to always communicate and open up the lines of discussion with your child. Parental guidance is the key; communicating with your children about cyber-safety and cyber risks will provide them with better awareness and allow them to make wise choices online

Education In The 22nd Century

Video Games

A majority of teenagers play video games, and they do so with peers and/or strangers online. Sometimes, children can access graphic content when playing these games. It is important therefore to either play these games with your child or experience these games in advance before letting your child engage with them. Talk to your children and help them understand the importance of making responsible choices while playing games. Common Sense Media is a tool that you could use to do your research on the various games and apps before your children access them. Here is a guide on the ratings that you may find useful. With your research in place and the ground rules laid out, you and your child are more likely than not to set out on a path of positive experiences with gaming. 

Safety Features

To ensure that your child is safely surfing the internet, it is essential to set certain parental controls on their devices. Here are some safety features and apps that will allow you to monitor and manage your child’s screen time and cyber-safety. These apps specify limits for certain activities and provide surveillance on usage behaviour. Bark enables you to track your child’s activities on their devices like monitoring text messages, emails and different social networks for potential risks and harmful content. Parents will be alerted automatically when these issues are detected. Moments is another useful tool that helps to manage screen time and supports your family to reflect on screen time and the excessive use of devices.  

Cyber Pledge

The internet can be a safe place when you and your child enjoy an open and transparent relationship and engage in honest conversations with each other. You can begin by sharing a cyber pledge. This will lay the groundwork for expectations within the family unit. It will also nurture a sense of responsibility on the use of devices and the choices made when communicating online. It is important to reinforce the importance of a digital footprint and that every action in the digital space is etched in time. You cannot take it back. Take the time to listen and reassure them that you are there to guide them instead of controlling their every action. Give them the freedom to make their choices, but make it a point to be with them every step of the way.   

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