Technology can be awesome
Young children love devices – and why wouldn't they? We all do. There are lots of apps for young children, and many can enhance language and cognitive skills.
Researchers have found that one big plus for technology is video chatting. When our whānau are scattered all around Aotearoa and the world, using the likes of Zoom, FaceTime and Messenger is a great way to regularly keep in contact with each other.
Screen time can also be whānau time. By sharing screen time with your tamariki you build your relationship and attachment. Try watching videos together, talking about what they are doing or playing an educational game together.
How much is too much?
The biggest question you probably have is, how much screen time is okay for tamariki?
The key is everything in moderation. Tamariki need to play with real things and real people in the real world, and they need someone to talk with. SKIP parenting educator Vicky Ellison says using devices should be just one part of your child's day.
You might want to set your own whānau limits to manage how much screen time your tamariki have, depending on their age and stage of development.
Screen free times
If we don’t want our children to be glued to devices, we can’t be glued ourselves. As we all work from home more often, it can be hard to draw a line between work time and whānau time, especially with our phone 'dinging' every time we receive a new work email! This can interrupt precious whānau time.
How about kai time? Are you sitting around the table or sitting around the TV?
You might want to think about setting some time aside to put the devices away and be present as a whānau – yes adults too! This could be dinner time. Bedtimes should be screen free too, as the blue light from devices can interfere with sleep. It will be challenging to introduce at first, take small steps.
Preventing device dramas
It's okay if you only have one or two devices to share between your tamariki. Make a plan so that everyone gets to use it when they need to, especially for online learning.
You could set time limits to prevent fighting and encourage fair sharing.