MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCBD) — “Are my kids spending too much time using new technology?” That’s a question Dr. Chelsea Oswald says she hears from parents all the time.
Dr. Oswald is a childhood psychologist with Charleston Pediatric Psychology in Mount Pleasant. She says it’s a balance between protecting your children’s health and mind while embracing the fact that technology will be a big part of their future.
“This is an ongoing struggle, I think, not only for parents, but for children,” she says. “We have to meet children where they are at and technology is going to be a big part of their lives moving forward.
She says that overuse can have its dangers physically as well as emotionally. Screen based sedentary behaviors can lead to problems like obesity or sleep disruption. Unsupervised and unchecked social media usage can also leave children open to cyber bullying, inappropriate or unsafe content and other negative interactions.
Dr. Oswald also says the benefits shouldn’t be overlooked. She says many apps foster positive cognitive development and healthy lifestyles. It also allows kids and teens to connect in very positive ways with parents, friends or classmates.
Ultimately, she says it’s about moderation. She says parents should set consistent limits on how much time their kids spend on the phone, computer, iPad or any other form of media.
She says kids learn through example, “As parents we have to work on modeling our own appropriate boundaries with technology use to help our child learn appropriate boundaries.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a list of recommended media use for children. For kids under 18 months they recommend no media except video chats. For kids 18-24 months they recommend that parents watch high quality content with them. For 2-5 they say 1 hour of high quality content everyday. For kids 6 and up they say parents should set time limits and view the content with them.