Do you think your kid’s screen time is having a negative effect on them? Technology can be harmful or transformational for your kid if not managed properly. Technology has greatly improved education for children but there are still many reasons why it’s frowned upon when it comes to kids and their developmental growth. It’s up to us – the adults in their lives – to use these tools to develop the leaders of tomorrow.
In this article, I write about the good, the ugly, and the future about kids and tech. I provide insight into the benefits of technology, as well as, the negative impact on our future generation of leaders. You will also get some tips on how to ensure their screen doesn’t become their downfall.
Benefits of technology you don’t want to miss out on:
Advanced educational opportunities – A lot of information is available via their little fingerprints. Making education more accessible with options on how to simplify it for any learning level.
Develop skills and talent – Thanks to “how-to videos” children can learn anything their hearts desire. This is a great opportunity for parents to support their kid’s screen time. Far gone are the days a parent can’t help a child with their homework or discovery process simply because they don’t know something. Common core math anyone?! Thank goodness this is no longer a thing in Florida – check out the latest news!
Build career opportunities – Children that receive support with their screen time are becoming entrepreneurs and creating amazing lives for themselves and their loved ones. Don’t believe me? Check out this article – 7 Amazing Kid Entrepreneurs Who Will Make You Think, Man What Was I Doing at Their Age? – written by Bill Murphy Jr. at Inc Magazine.
Create bonds – This one is one of my favorites. Traveling a lot impacts my relationship with my family. I especially end up missing the sweet faces of my nieces. Thanks to technology I can still strengthen our bonds while experiencing their expressions and moments. In exchange, they get to experience my world from their screen time and my mobile device. Separately, my friend’s son learned Japanese because of the virtual friendship he built playing video games with a boy in Japan.
Raise cultural sensitivity and awareness – Through technology, children get to experience the entire world and beyond. Including – places, people, things. You name it! Tomorrow’s leaders, now more than ever, require a better understanding of the differences between themselves and others. Thanks to technology this is easier to develop than in the past.
Negative results of kids and technology you want to keep an eye out:
Educational disparity – The educational requirement of technology is creating a disadvantage amongst children and their future opportunities. Some schools in New York City require children to have a laptop to complete their assignments. This means they are also required to have internet access. Children who cannot afford either end up falling behind.
Bullying and suicide – The downside of “how-to videos” is that children are using their screen time to learn how to make bombs and take on challenges (jumping off roofs, planking in random places) that can cause a lot of physical and mental damage.
Poor health – Extended screen time and lack of physical exercise can lead to serious health conditions that impact the overall development and wellbeing of a child.
Affects emotional development – The extensive use of tech tools can lead children to develop a sense of detachment from others and poor social skills at home and in school. Browsing online can be dangerous for children whose screen time isn’t being monitored and can easily lead them to virtually creating bonds with the wrong people. This has led to children running away and / or encountering human trafficking.
Bullying and suicide – Cyberbullying and hate crimes are an issue among children and young adults. As a child, I was verbally bullied but fortunately, as soon as school was over so was the abuse. Kids nowadays aren’t as fortunate. Their torment online can take place all day and every day. According to Wikipedia, “75% of adolescents who experienced cyberbullying presented with higher suicidal ideation than those who have experienced verbal bullying”.
Tomorrow’s generation is empowered and when supported can be fearless. They can do things many of us could have never imagined a child accomplishing. Take a look at this Good Housekeeping article by Adam Shubak to learn how 40 kids are changing the world and proving that age is just a number.
The best thing is, you don’t have to be a parent to equip our future generation for success. You can be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin, neighbor, friend, educator, advocate, or volunteer. Heck, I’m a Latina philanthropist and with Dare2B, Inc (an all-volunteer organization) I’ve gathered hundreds of volunteers in the past 10 years to impact the lives of over 4,000 children! If I can make an impact, so can you!
Here are various ways you can choose to help ensure tech is being used as a positive tool to develop tomorrow’s leaders.
Monitor usage of mobile devices – supervise the child’s screen time and content consumption using tech tools – especially mobile devices.
Research and share – there are heaps of great platforms offering educational apps, programs, and events for children. If you discover it, share it with anyone that has kids or even with a school so they can help others reduce their kid’s screen time.
Stimulate their brains – don’t just place a mobile device in front of a child. Create an activity or challenge around their screen time. This can be something as simple as having a chat with them summarizing their lessons learned or experience.
Equip them with other activities – Setup a room with activities they will want to play with that has nothing to do with technology. Such as books, art supplies, instruments, sports equipment, etc. When my oldest niece was younger she would spend hours using her art easel and an endless supply of markers, color pencils, and paint. This led to her being discovered as an artist at the age of 15. The curator invited her to exhibit her art at a museum in Harlem. My niece was beyond ecstatic. As you can imagine, my family and I were very proud.
Mix media platforms – make sure your kids are being exposed to more than just visual tech. Have them use technology that helps them develop their listening skills. Such as audiobooks so that their eyes can take a break from the screen but their brain can continue to develop.
Have conversations – don’t just tune your kid out. You’ll be amazed at how interesting they can be and how much they’ll share when you just make time to talk with them. If your life is too crazy, schedule “date night” once a week or a month with your kid. Where you can just ignore the craziness and the outside world to dedicate 20 – 30 minutes to chat and eat a meal or a snack with your kid. Make it ice cream or pizza – anything they enjoy. You’ll see them count down the days for date night with you.
Establish parental controls – go beyond controlling downloads. Take their mobile devices away or change the password to your wifi access whenever they need a break or simply a time out. Some mobile services allow you to turn off their phone access during specific hours as well to help you reduce that screen time. This helps ensure your child gets quality sleep vs ending up on the phone all night.
Sign a parent | child mobile usage contract – sit down with your child and discuss an agreement on terms for their screen time. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips and a sample contract from Very Well Family that can guide you through the process of establishing family rules. Once signed, make sure you stick with it. ALL the terms. Not just pieces of it. No matter how hard it can be for you to do so. If you don’t, they definitely won’t.
Lead by example – reduce your screen time and make sure your kids see you doing other activities. When I’m with my nieces I avoid using my phone. I dedicate our time to interactive activities or having deep discussions about life. On the random occasion I’ve had to get on the phone it actually disturbs my youngest niece. She calls me out on it and asks me to please stop and pay attention. The only time I’m allowed on it is when I’m reading a book to her from my mobile device.
Develop a health and wellness routine – teach kids about yoga, meditation, and fitness, so that they aren’t dependent on just screen time. You can even use them as your fitness partner. It’ll be fun for them and great for your fitness routine. Plus it’ll allow you to create stronger bonds with your kid. Check out how well Jesse and Brodie do this on Instagram – JB Figure. It’s a beautiful thing seeing Jessica work out with daughter Brodie as her fitness partner in crime.
As adults, it’s our privilege and responsibility to raise the generation of tomorrow. The more we invest in them, the better chances society will have to succeed. They are our future entrepreneurs, politicians, doctors, caregivers, and so much more. It’s up to us to help equip and empower children to become the absolute best version of themselves.
What tips or resources do you have to reduce a kid’s screen time and empower them with tech?
About the Author
Roxana Colorado is an international business strategist, workshop facilitator, philanthropist, and speaker.
As a philanthropist, Roxana is passionate about developing our future leaders. She has worked with over 4,000 children in underserved communities throughout Africa, South America, and the United States to equip them for success.
In 2009, Roxana established an all-volunteer organization, Dare2B., Inc dedicated to educating and empowering homeless children to survive and thrive. In 2018, the nonprofit expanded its services to the Dominican Republic where she works with her team to develop children living in shantytowns.
In 2019, she partnered with ReTech Global to provide laptops to children of El Corozo in the Dominican Republic. This year, they will be flying out to the Dominican Republic with a cohort of volunteers to build out a computer lab, train staff, and develop programming to create sustainable opportunities that prevent kids from being left behind with technology.
Most recently, Roxana joined WordCamp Miami to co-organize KidsCamp – a tech conference dedicated to teaching kids ages 7 – 18 how to create their very own website. Roxana has added health and wellness sessions and entrepreneurial skills development to give children a holistic approach to growth and development.