Last week I touched on a discussion in the newsletter regarding 'healthy use' of technology. I mentioned there are risks and benefits with online gaming and social media use. After much feedback that this is a hot topic in our parent community and something parents are interested in knowing more about I would like to highlight further what research says some of the risks are and ways we can reduce these risks.According to Dr Michael Rich "Research shows that exposure to news programming and/or fictional media such as video games, movies and TV shows can frighten and confuse children and in some cases, introduce them to fears that can last into adulthood." Dr Michael Rich goes onto say that "Studies show that children who watched television just before bedtime had greater difficulty falling asleep, were more anxious at bedtime, and had higher rates of nightmares". Often when I am talking with children who have perhaps had some behavioral difficulties in class I will ask the question, 'how did you sleep last night?'. More often than not I hear the excuse 'oh I was up late playing a game' or 'I went to bed at around 10.00pm'. Healthy sleep patterns are crucial to brain development. Below are 4 tips to help reduce screen time at bed time and help children to make healthy choices around their devices.
Do your homework: www.commonsensemedia.org/reviews is a website that you can use to review some of the online material that children are watching and accessing.
Practice Media Literacy: Help your child to use an inquiry approach to what they are watching. Encourage them to ask questions and understand the motivation behind the media. Talk about anything that they may have been disturbing to watch by reminding them that the 'characters are made'.
Be a Media Role Model: Model the media behaviors that you would like to see in your child and engage in content that is considered age/developmentally appropriate.
Remove Screens from Children's Bedrooms: Keeping media in a common area provides the opportunities for parents to monitor their child's use. Have an open screen policy where at any time parents can watch and join in on what their child is looking at. Removing screens from the bedrooms also minimizes the opportunities for any late night temptations to watch 'one more episode' of that Netflix show (for example).
The above is taken from the 'Centre on Media and Child Health', go to www.cmch.tv/parents/fear-and-anxiety/