Most of the advice I've heard on managing technology, especially for kids, is just complete avoidance. We often hear about the scary things online, how there is the potential for screen addiction, and that life is meant to be lived outside etc, so why use technology at all?
Some families have decided to limit technology in a way that kids are not exposed to any television or devices at all. For us, this seems like a disservice to our children in some way. When our world uses technology in almost every facet and area of life, to completely devoid our children of any exposure to it seemed to be setting him or her up for failure in the future. Technology is a tool and has potential to be used for good, if it is in it's proper place.
Learning how to manage the addictive nature of television and technology, and to have discussions about what is appropriate to watch and engage with, we feel are skills we should be teaching our children from very early on. But, each family needs to find their own balance and boundaries with technology through prayer and discussion.
Let's Talk About Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one hour of quality programming for kids in 5 and under, starting after 18 months, and we’ve found this to be a useful starting point. Times we waver from this are during sickness or surgery recovery, late pregnancy/newborn weeks, and on special occasions like a family movie night.
Since we have yet to find any good use or need for individual screen time, like time on a tablet or individual device or for video games, the only screen time we use for entertainment is television. (Coming up, I'll be sharing about how we use technology for educational purposes). We feel that individual screen time is too powerful and that any screen time our kids have should be monitored and participated in together.
Quality TV Shows for Kids
“Quality Programming” has been our biggest take-away from the AAP’s recommendations. We don’t ever sit our children in front of the television and let them watch absentmindedly. Our children are limited to what shows they can watch, and mom or dad watches each episode with them.
The shows we watch we choose carefully, making sure there are not scary themes, violence, dark humor, sexual themes, disrespectful/whiny children, bumbling father figures, or mindless and confusing nonsense. We try our best to choose shows that are educational, nature or book-based, and ones that inspire imagination and imaginative play. Our short list for our little ones includes:
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (PBS)
- Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (Amazon Prime/PBS)
- Tumble Leaf (Amazon Prime)
- Little Bear (YouTube)
- Wild Kratts (PBS)
- Spot the Dog (YouTube)
As our children have gotten older, this list has expanded somewhat, but not much. Here are a few more we've added to our rotation:
- Bluey (Disney)
- Ask the Story Bots (Netflix)
- Planet Earth (Library Rental)
- Elinor Wonders Why (PBS)
- Magic School Bus (Library Rental, old version)
- Little House on the Prairie (Peacock)
We believe that technology can be used in ways that amplify our family values, create shared memories and enhance our life! But, living in a place where we embrace caution without complete avoidance is a constant balancing act and not easy. In fact, sometimes it gets out of whack and we have to reset: Our Tech Reset Blog Post. We think it is worth it though!
What are ways you’ve found uses for technology? Do your family boundaries looks similar to ours? I know every family differs greatly on this topic, so I would love to hear what managing technology means for yours!