Many parents wonder how good mobile devices are for their children. It is important to use technology responsibly.
Psychologist, Clinical and Child Development Specialist
After the Covid-19 pandemic forced several daily activities, such as working and studying, to take place virtually, the dynamics of this context were also questioned. This was the case with the documentary drama trending on Netflix, The Social Dilemma, which exposes the business and impact of these media platforms.
With respect to children, a common concern for parents and caregivers is how much time they should spend in front of a screen. The World Health Organization’s recommendation is that children under two years of age should not have any screen time, from two to five years of age it should be less than one hour a day, and between five and twelve, one hour. However, this varies, even more so with the demands of our new reality.
“For me, how much time they spend in front of a screen, obviously without exceeding limits, is not so important. The most important thing is that it is used responsibly. We must monitor what our children see and provide them with support,” states psychologist Carolina Molina, Clinical and Child Development specialist and author of A Guide for the Millennial Mother.
In her field, the psychologist has been working in the digital world for more than five years, “I see networks and information and communication technologies as allies because I manage them well. My daughter, who is a digital native, has access to that information under my supervision, with established time limits and schedules. But I also find it very respectable that there are parents who decide that their children should not have access to technology until a certain age,” comments Molina.
As for social networks, the specialist explains that it is important that they appear at a time when young people can make decisions, be consistent with the content that they want to share and protect themselves against possible abuse. Both Facebook and Instagram require their users to be at least 13 years old.
Set an example
Standards with technology are set by adults at home, “children learn from what they see us do. If parents don’t let go of their cell phones even to eat and communicate without making eye contact, it is difficult to establish limits for children when their parents don’t have them,” says the psychologist.
The issue becomes problematic when children grow up alone, accompanied by electronic devices, with absent parents or caregivers. “They are often children who cover their emotional gaps with social networks and technology. As a result, more hours pass by than they should. But it is not about the devices themselves, but the gaps they have in the connection with their families,” says Carolina Molina.
Giving balanced support
It is essential to prevent children from being victims of any kind of abuse. Therefore, it is necessary to talk to your kids about the risks of the Internet from an early age. They must understand that they should not talk to strangers, send their photographs, or reveal personal details. “Make them aware of the precautions, but also what to do in case of such a situation. Tell them: I am here to support you, you can count on me and we can make decisions together,” says Molina.
More than being a detective, it is about building a relationship with your children based on trust and communication. “As a mom or dad, I need to know what social media is all about, what language is used. We are supporters of a process, not watchmen or controllers of everything. That is where trust comes in,” states the specialist.
These networks are a healthy educational and recreational resource when they are used properly. “To my daughter, I am the one who gives her access to programs or blocks content. Also, the devices have a timer that warns you when your time on screen ends, so there is no excess. Likewise, we have been in charge of providing other, more interesting alternatives to technology: running, singing, making art, etc.,” she concludes.•
Interacting as a family
Psychologist Carolina Molina, Clinical and Child Development specialist, recommends some content and resources suitable for the youngest ones.
- Apps: Preescolar Montessori and Smile and Learn.
- YouTube channels: Smile and Learn, Happy and Learn, and Blippi.
- Netflix: Daniel Tigre, Charlie Villacolores and Matemonstruos.
Virtuality can help in education and learning if used assertively and responsibly.