As phone for kids become more and more common, parents are faced with tough decisions. They want their child to learn about technology and experience all of the benefits associated with technology, but they also want their child to be tech-healthy. They do not want their child to be unable to disconnect from a screen and be unable to have healthy relationships in real life.
Everyone wants what is best for their child, and raising your child to be tech-healthy is important. You want to balance technology in their life, while also balancing real experiences in their life. Learning what it looks like to be a tech-healthy child and how you can encourage your child to be tech-healthy. Read on to learn more about what a tech-healthy child looks like and what steps you can take to help ensure that your child is as tech-healthy as possible.
Having Real Relationships
One of the most distinguishable factors between a tech-healthy child and a child who is exposed to way too much technology is their ability to have real relationships. Having online relationships is fine, but a child’s friends should not include television characters and YouTube stars. Children need to have real, interactive relationships with their family members and other children their age.
If your child is struggling to talk, interact or does not know how to act around other people, they are spending way too much time using electronic devices, including televisions, tablets and cell phones. This is a key indicator that you need to limit screen time and start exposing your child to real relationships and real people.
Understanding What is Real and What is Not
Another important element to look at when you are trying to determine whether your child is tech-healthy or not is whether they understand what is real and what is not. Children need to understand that not everything online or on a cell phone is real. Things are not always as they appear, as is the case with social media and television shows. Your child should be able to differentiate between pretend and reality.
Unfortunately though, if your child is spending too much time online, they may be swept up into an online world and may have trouble determining what is real. They may start to think that life is actually similar to their favorite television show or that the life of an online influencer is attainable for everyone. You need to ensure your child understands what is real, and limiting screen time and exposing them to different situations in real life can help with this.
Being Able to Socialize Both Online and In Person
A tech-healthy kid should be able to socialize both online and in person. This goes back to having healthy relationships. If your child struggles to socialize in person but seems very outgoing and active online, they may be spending too much time online. Having online relationships and conversations can be helpful, but having real, in-person conversations is more beneficial. Your child needs to learn how to act online and how to act in person, as these skills will carry with them throughout their life.
The Ability to Cope Without Electronics
It is normal for a child to enjoy electronics, including tablets, cell phones and computers. However, a tech-healthy child can cope if those items are taken away. They can find something else to do, such as playing with other toys, putting together a puzzle, or going outside and playing. A child who is not tech-healthy and who has been exposed to too much technology may find themselves unable to cope without their electronics.
Children who are not tech-healthy become reliant on electronics. Electronics allow them not to think for themselves while providing them with entertainment. When these items are taken away, a child may be confused or unsure of what to do for themselves. If your child seems confused, agitated or does not know what to do when electronics are removed, your child has become too reliant on screen time and technology.
Being Able to Prioritize Your Time
The final sign that a child is a tech-healthy child is the ability to prioritize their time. A child who utilizes electronics in a healthy way knows when to use them and when to shut them down. If they have a school project due, they can prioritize their time, and get their work done without technology interfering. They can also shut down technology at night and allow themselves to get enough sleep.
If you notice your child struggling to turn the phone off, find them using technology way past their bedtime, or discover they are not completing schoolwork or tasks because they are spending too much time with electronics, they are not tech-healthy.
As a parent, it is easy to provide a phone for kids, and then allow your child to stay on that phone as long as they want. In fact, many parents use a phone as a crutch for children, starting very, very young. If a toddler is fussy, they may put on videos for the toddler, or if a child is bored, they may put games on their phone. While cell phones and technology have a place, allowing your child to live in the real world also has a place.
As a parent, you need to balance technology and real life, and help your child to be tech-healthy. Allowing your child to have real relationships, understanding what is real and what is not, being able to socialize online and in-person, being able to cope without electronics, and being able to prioritize their time are all signs that your child is tech-healthy and utilizing technology in a healthy manner.