Kids and Technology: Setting Good Habits with New Gadgets

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(Photo Courtesy: MGN Online)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A lot of Tennessee Valley kids got shiny new gadgets for Christmas. If your child was one of them, chances are good they’re still glued to that tablet or gaming console.

So, how can you keep your child from becoming technology obsessed?

First, it’s important to understand why it’s not a great idea to let your tablet-savvy toddler play all day.

“Too much technology exposure changes the way [childrens’] brains develop,” Stacy Ikard, a Huntsville-area Doctor of Counseling told WHNT News 19. “It actually changes the way their brains learn and take in information.”

With that in mind, Ikard urges parents to help kids learn “good gadget habits” early.

One place to start? The American Academy of Pediatrics. It has strict “screen time” guidelines for children. Between the ages of zero and 2, the Academy recommends no media time. Ages 3-5 should get just one hour a day. Ages 6-18, just 2 hours a day.

“That can add up very quickly, especially if we’re not paying attention to what our children are doing,” Ikard notes.

Kids also use more technology, more than ever, in school… so even moderate time at home could be overkill.

If your child is already overexposed, you may notice shifts in their behavior. They may have a sudden disinterest in things they used to like – including outdoor activity. They may also start acting out through tantruming.

Parents should be vigilant as well, according to Ikard, about monitoring the type of content their child is exposed to with technology. Apps and games should be reviewed by an adult before a child plays them – making it easier to spot overly violent or inappropriate material.

As a remedy for too much screen time, Ikard recommends going old school – pack up the kids and hit the playground!