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Here's How Screen Time Can Actually Benefit Child Development

For years, parents have struggled to maintain a balance with technology and their children. Depending on their own generation, some parents may not have had screen time of their own as they were growing up, and thus presenting a new set of challenges for modern parenting. Although the common notion is that less screen time for children is better, according to Better Homes and Gardens, experts might be saying something a little different for future guidelines.

The article notes that over a third of children at the pre-school age spend four hours per day on their smartphone or mobile tech device. However, child education specialists would like to encourage parents to use the opportunity to educate children, rather than as a simple means to distract them. Although there has been plenty of coverage in the media regarding the negative effects of screen time and children, some experts claim that using tech can actually help with child development as a whole.

However, parents should be warned against handing over devices to children under the age of eighteen months. Older children can benefit from interacting with technology, as long as parents are there to guide them and help stimulate their imagination. Keeping screen time as an active process, as opposed to a passive one, can help with child development. For example, parents can nudge children into answering questions, and also by asking for their own opinions while they’re using certain devices. Children are typically eager to learn new things, and they enjoy picking up new concepts through challenging puzzles, games, and interaction with their parents.

Educational apps are also a great way to continue the theme of learning throughout your child's life. Jessica Sargeant, an early childhood educator, has offered some key tips to help with guiding children and technological devices. According to Sargeant, try having children perform a scavenger hunt with their devices. Ask children to take photos of things starting with a certain letter, and enjoy the results.

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Instead of keeping things strictly on a screen, encourage children to spell out words or letters by using non-traditional methods, such as writing in the dirt or using the natural environment. If your child has a favorite game, try playing it with them instead of letting the game become a passive experience. Ask questions and encourage the child to be inquisitive. If you're watching a program with your child, take a break during the television show and encourage discussion. Ask them about emotional questions, such as how do you think that certain character feels?

“Unless you’re sitting there pointing to things on the screen with your child, those neural connections won’t form. It’s very important for parents or guardians to have lots of connected time with their children and that can still be done with screens.” Sargeant said.

What do you think of these new recommendations for children? Let us know in the comments!

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