10 recommendations for a Family Plan for the Use of Technologies

The presence of several electronic devices at home working at the same time is becoming more common. Many families consider how this new way of spending their free time will affect them and, what is worse, they begin to detect different forms of addiction to these new technologies when they see how the time of use has increased, while they have failed when trying to reduce it.

A clear example is the phenomenon of vamping (word derived from vampire) in reference to the boys who are in their rooms with the light off and with the phone in full activity, who sleep little because they go to bed late or get up early to look at the phone before going to school, eat bad and have poor school performance.

Rules and limits: bases of a Family Plan for the Use of Technologies

Preventing these situations of danger is already a need that can only be developed through information on the part of families, schools and professionals towards minors, clearly explaining the advantages and disadvantages of new technologies and setting standards and limits at home to distinguish the use of abuse.

Make a differentiation by age of the children will help us draw a Family Plan for the Use of Technology. The following can help us:

- Children from 0 to 5 years old. There is crucial brain development, safe relationships are built and healthy behaviors are established.

- Children under 2 years old. They need exploration through palpation and social interaction with trusted caregivers to develop their cognitive, linguistic, motor and social-emotional skills. Because of their still immature symbolic, memory and attention skills, infants and toddlers can not learn from conventional digital media in the same way they do from caregivers. To facilitate small children learning is necessary visualization together with parents, who can perform the re-teaching of the content.

- Children from 3 to 5 years old. Well-designed television programs, such as Sesame Street, can improve cognitive, literary and social outcomes in children 3 to 5 years of age. On the contrary, the excessive use of new technologies during the preschool years is associated with a small, but significant increase in obesity

How the abuse of technologies affects the family

- Reduction of sleep time. The increasing duration of exposure to media and the presence of a television, computer, mobile in the bedroom during early childhood has been associated with fewer minutes of sleep per night. The mechanisms behind this association include content that awakens and suppression of endogenous melatonin by the blue light emitted from the screens.

- Cognitive delays in childhood. Population studies continue to show the association between excessive television viewing during the first years and cognitive delays, language and social and emotional skills.

- Family communication problems. In households with a higher consumption of media, there is a decrease in the interaction between parents and children when television is on and family functioning is worse.

- Worse school performance. The early use of media, greater accumulation of hours of media use, and inappropriate content are all significant independent predictors of poor performance in preschoolers.

- Behavioral problems. The change from a violent content to an educational / prosocial one leads to a significant improvement of behavioral symptoms, particularly for children with less economic resources.

- Lack of time of the parents.It is known that the use of television by parents distracts them from interactions and games between parents and children. The exaggerated use of the mobile in parents is related to less interactions, both verbal and non-verbal between parents and children and may be associated with more conflicts between them.

10 recommendations to design a Family Plan for the Use of Technologies

1. Early develop a Family Plan for the Use of Technologies with habits, locations and with specific guides for each child.

2. Exploration is important for young children through the path of palpation or social games for the construction of linguistic, cognitive and social-emotional skills.

3. For children under 18 months, the use of screens is discouraged.

4. In children 18 to 24 months of age, the use of technological devices on their own should be avoided. In the case of using digital media, the recommendation is to choose apps / programming of great quality and use them together with their children, so that they can learn.

5. Research in search of products with certified quality content it must be the parent's task.

6In children older than 2 to 5 years, The use of media should be limited to 1 hour or less daily, always with high quality programming.

7. Share the use of technological devices between parents and children is the general recommendation to promote learning, greater interaction and adjust the limit.

8. Prevents devices from being used during meals and one hour before sleep.

9. Remove electronic devices from the rooms.

10. Find alternative activities to calm children who are not digital games.

Marisol Nuevo Espín
Advice: Javier Miranda / Salvador Martínez Arenas. Heads of Nisa Pediatrics in the Valencian Community

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