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Screentime: Where should Parents Draw the Line?

With so much content on the internet nowadays, it can be difficult for parents to monitor what their kids see online. Check out these helpful internet safety tools!

Screentime: Where should Parents Draw the Line?  

Parenting isn’t easy, and sometimes you need just 30 minutes to decompress. Handing your kiddo a smartphone or tablet can sometimes be the ultimate sanity-saver when you need to keep them occupied. In moderation, internet browsing and social media aren’t bad, but we know for certain that excessive content consumption can be detrimental to our little ones’ mental health, especially for little girls in the age of Instagram.

Most parents struggle with knowing how much internet usage is too much and where to draw the line. After all, the internet doesn’t come with a warning or kid-friendly instructions! The more internet and social media safety tools you have as a parent, the better equipped your little one will be for safely browsing the internet.

There Are Some Positives to the Internet

I recently had a conversation with the wonderful Cat & Nat about social media and online safety, and we concluded that while the internet absolutely does have its drawbacks, there are some positive sources of content for little ones online.

The internet opens children up to a world of knowledge. Curious kiddos can get answers to their burning questions in just a matter of seconds and with a few keystrokes. They can discover new things every day!

Smartphone apps offer endless possibilities for educational play, with games on practically every subject. Practicing math, science, literacy and language skills can all be accomplished with the touch of a button. Today’s world revolves around technology and the internet, and giving kids access to a tablet or smartphone can sometimes really help them be more successful in the future.

Social media offers a way for little ones to connect with other people their age — helping to develop their social skills. This is especially beneficial in the age of COVID where they can’t physically interact with other kids as much as before.

In moderation, the internet offers kids a multitude of ways to learn and play that would have been impossible decades ago.  

The Risks of Excessive Internet Usage

Although the internet takeover has its pros, research shows just how bad excessive screen time can be. According to Dr. Nicholas Kardaras of the New York Post, tablets, smartphones and gaming systems are considered “digital drugs.” “Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex—which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does,” said Dr. Kardaras.

The long list of screen time’s dark sides includes everything from weight gain, vision issues, focusing problems, depression and difficulty sleeping. When it comes to infants, digital devices have especially detrimental effects. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies under 18 months should not be exposed to tablets and smartphones. Exposure to screens causes babies to become over-stimulated, and it can make it difficult for them to bond with their parents.

The Solution: Find A Balance & Practice Internet Safety

Although these side effects may sound intimidating, moderation is a simple fix. Finding a balance means embracing tech without overdoing it. A great way to limit your kids’ technology usage is to create “no tech time.” This can mean anything from banning phones during meals, until homework has been finished or even two hours before bedtime.  

It’s also SO important for mommies & daddies to start teaching healthy internet practices to their children at a young age. When your kiddo wants to start browsing the internet — instead of just handing them a device and letting them do whatever they please, show them how to browse the internet and find healthy, productive activities to do online. By instilling these practices in their brain while they’re young, you’re setting them up for success in the future!

Google also offers a TON of helpful resources for teaching online safety to your children and helping parents monitor their kids’ internet usage. I created a helpful guide with details about each feature Google offers and how parents can best benefit from each of them. You can check it out on my website!

The bottom line is that the internet can be great for kids—when used in moderation. Screen time is okay but making sure you’re aware of what your kids are viewing online will help you to set responsible limits. Understanding the pros and cons will help you to make the perfect plan for your family!