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How to ensure your child has a healthy relationship with technology.

Digital technology is all around us, at work, at home, and now in the classroom. In short, our children are living in a technological era, so finding a healthy balance isn’t as straightfoward as it once was. We sat down with Counsellor Tina Myrteza to learn more about kids and tech.

“We can’t remove their tool for learning and discovery, nor can we feel contempt towards it when it is being overused,” Tina says. “We can however, model and teach our children responsible usage and how to stay safe online so that their tool does not become a source of dependency.”

So, what are some helpful tips to trim down screen time at home?

The clear answer here is boundaries. Children would be familiar with a technology contract of some type as most schools make both the parents and children sign an agreement around responsible usage. Therefore, something similar should be in place at home. This might include things like time limits, usage in common areas, access to passwords, and charging devices in separate rooms etc.

Why are boundaries important?

Boundaries that are modelled by parents and are consistent and coconstructed as a family, ensure that devices can be enjoyed in moderation without the risk of usage turning into addiction.

What does too much screen time do to a child’s brain?

When we do something we enjoy, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is associated with reward and it makes us feel good. The only problem with dopamine is that it is also associated with addiction. If we are struggling with psychological pain, we may seek out regular dopamine hits as a way to escape from unhappiness, anxiety, or pain.

How much screen time should a child have per day (not including schoolwork)?

• Kids aged 5-17 should have no more than two hours of screen time a day

• Kids aged 2-5 should have no more than one hour of unrestrained (as in not sitting still) screen time a day – less is better. Sedentary screen time is not recommended

• Children under 2 should have no screen time.