It's becoming clearer, that also in the field of digital technology, we cannot do without early systematic education.
Guidelines for parents of preschool children
During preschool time children's and family’s habits are formed and they influence on patterns of physical activities throughout the whole life. Therefore do not substitute other types of learning with digital devices.
In front of you are professional guidelines for healthy use of devices during the preschool period. It is important to highlight that use of different digital devices in the preschool period do not benefit children’s development. In this period, children more than anything else need an emotional safe family environment and more analog experience, which they get through playing, fun and in interaction with important persons around them.
Contact with devices should be slow and gradual. Excessive use can lead to reduced creativity or in addiction.
- Children until 18 months old should not be exposed to the use of digital devices.
- From 2 years onward children should not use devices for more than 25 minutes daily, at most not more than 60 minutes daily with the presence of parents. It is better to devote less time for devices.
- Children should not be exposed to devices everyday.
- We recommend digital fasting – days without use of devices.
- Shut down media content on devices in the background, as they are distractors and take children’s and parents attention.
Movement and Sleeping
Safe time device limit does not exist. For children’s health it is mostly important to have enough sleep and movement. Time spent in front of the screen has an effect on physical activity and movement.
- Inappropriate use of devices especially in the evening time, can contribute towards more irritability of children, difficulty sleeping, and more intermittent sleep.
- Devices should not be in children’s rooms and bedrooms.
- Instead of a cartoon before bedtime, we can read a story to our children.
- At least one hour before sleeping, children should not be exposed to media content.
At 3 years old children can get to know age appropriate media content. The general guideline is that the content should be age appropriate, educational, without violence and fear factor. It is also important to take into consideration how the content fits with your family values and views. That way you can protect your children against upsetting content.
- Simple rule, which is worth following, is that every application which children want to use, we check the content first and assess what impact it will have on my child or how my child will react to content.
- Abide with the age limit of application.
- You should look at contents together with children or at least be close to them so you can follow what children are doing. The risk that the child will get in contact with upsetting content is too big.
- Conversation about visible contents can strengthen understanding and neutralize negative messages and at the same time, strengthen child-parents relationship.
- Avoid advertisement messages.
- Special care must be taken on movable devices, connected with the internet. On your devices, set setting/application/programme for parental monitoring (filtering children inappropriate content, blocking of advertisements and so on).
- Choose contents which your child understands and are educational. Examples of such contents include painting, songs, riddles, application for putting words and numbers in order, puzzles and other similar contents.
Rules should be simple and clear. This means that we decide when and where devices can be used, and when and where it is not allowed to use them. Rules should be part of all periods of growing up, but adjusted or changed age appropriate.
- Consistency and unity of parents are very important. Bigger consistency and unity, less complications around violation of rules.
- When you remove devices it is important to persist even though your child is crying, protesting, pleasing for more, behave aggressively. More often you persist, these behaviours will subside.
- Devices should have their own place in the flat, but definitely not in the child’s room or a bedroom.
- When devices are not in use, they should be turned off and put away from the visual field of children.
- Devices should be offered only after all important child’s needs are satisfied, such as movement, play, time with parents, biological needs etc.
- Do not use devices during everyday routine activities (during meals, brushing teeth, toilet training etc.).
- When children are tired, bored, irritated or frightened you should not distract them with devices but be with them, talk with them and invite them to do other activities.
- Do not use devices instead of a babysitter or as a reward for good behaviour.
- When children are bored, you should not distract them with devices, but leave them to experience this feeling and encourage them to do other creative activities.
Your children observe and imitate you. With good role modeling regarding using devices, you are offering to your children a good platform for healthy use of devices during growing up.
Think about your own use:
- For instance, how do I use digital devices? Do I use a phone whilst my child is waiting? Am I looking in the monitor when he is performing? Do I dropped everything when I hear a sound of message? Do I ever treat myself with digital fast? Why do I feel bad when my child is looking while I using the keyboard? Where do I leave devices? How do I react if the battery is empty? With such and similar questions you can define your relationship with technology and you can think about what kind of relationship with devices do you want for yourselves and your children.
- Avoid using devices when you are spending time with your children. Dedicate to your children all your attention or direct him towards other independent activities.
- Protect your children's privacy– do not post their photograph, video footages, and other personal information online.
- In front of children do not use device for overcoming your boredom.
- If it is possible try not to work on devices in front of children.
- Day Centre is a space where communication with mobile telephone and their uses are not desirable. Let our children get the message that they are most important for us.
Useful connections and more information:
⇒ ZDAJ.net: www.zdaj.net –Information and advice about prevention checks and our healthy way of life for pregnancy, children and young people.
⇒ SAFE.SI – Awareness point about safe use of the internet and mobile devices for children, teenagers, parents and teachers: www.safe.si – information about safe use of devices.
⇒ Common Sense Media: www.commonsensemedia.org – Internet page (in english language), where parents can check age appropriate content (puzzle, film, games, etc.)