Digital technology, such as televisions, smart telephones, computers, tablets etc., have become part of everyday life, undoubtedly our children will be using them during their growing up periods. The key question about this is, how to use them, that they would not damage their health and development.
Preschool period is the most vulnerable period for child’ development, whereby the brain undergo intense development and this stands as foundation for all later periods of live. Therefore it is especially important which kind of experience children get during this time. In short it can be said that they need an emotionally safe and secure family environment and as much as possible 'analog' practical experience.
Use of devices is not beneficial for development of preschool children, inappropriate use also can have more negative influence. In particular problematic is everyday longer device exposure and for a child’s age inappropriate content (for example, violence, sexuality, adverts, etc.)
Results of current research findings show connection between inappropriate use of device and risk for excessive weight and with this connected health problems, problem with sleeping (difficulty falling asleep, more waking-up), disturbance with language/speech development, problem with regulating emotion (irritation, impulsivity), problem in the area of social skills, disturbance of connecting in child-parent relationship, problem with directing the attention.
At maintaining healthy habit in use of device at preschool period, parents can use the following professional guide recommendations:
- Children up to 18 months old should not be exposed to the use of digital devices.
- Children should not be exposed to devices daily. We recommend e.g. digital fasting- day without use of devices (for example at least 1 time weekly or for example spent holiday).
- Check appropriate contents-they should be understood, educating, and without violence.
- On devices, connected with internet, set up settings/application/programme for parents monitoring (filtering children inappropriate content, blocking advert etc.)
- Devices should not be easily accessible to children, but the parents have to decide about its use. Device should have its own place in the flat-certainly not in the bedroom and children room. .
- Offer devices only when they satisfied all important children’s needs - movement, play, time with parents, biological needs etc. At least one hour before sleep do not offer devices to children.
- Do not use device during everyday routine activities (during meals, washing teeth, toilet training etc.) and with intention of regulating emotions and mood (for example tiredness, irritation and boredom).
Clear rules and measures in preschool periods are foundation for healthy use of devices also in coming years of growing up when the use of devices becomes more interesting. Let us not forget parents’ role modeling how to use devices, which represents the main signpost of child’s habits on using devices during growing up.