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I wanted to share some great info and tips on children’s’ tech use as we are in the back to school season. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) released a recent survey that reported the average American child, age eight and younger, uses more than three personal technology devices at home, including tablets, smartphones and video game consoles. More information on the survey, how to keep kids engaged offline and best practices for summer break are below.
Keeping Tabs on Tech this School Year
Now that summer has past, it’s a great time to check in with your kids and ensure they’re interacting with their peers and participating in activities that don’t always revolve around technology.
A recent ASHA survey reported that the average American child, age eight and younger, uses more than three personal technology devices at home, including tablets, smartphones and video game consoles.
With so much access to technology in today’s world, utilizing strategies to encourage social and verbal interaction over screen time is imperative, though that doesn’t mean cutting out screens entirely.
Here are a few ways to help kids (and the whole family) develop a healthy technological balance all year long:
- Make tech use a family affair. Technology itself is not necessarily a problem, but how it’s being used and what it takes away from on a daily basis. For instance, does it take time away from reading or physical activity? Is it interfering with the quality or quantity of conversation between parents and children (as many parents report)? To help kids maintain time for real human engagement, try using technology with your child-whether that’s looking up information on the computer together or playing a game with them. That way you’re giving your child the opportunity to interact and keep the lines of communication open, while doing something they love.
- Dedicate tech-free times at home. Try experimenting with setting daily limits on your child’s screen use and finding opportunities for the entire family to disconnect together. Parents who work in the technology industry (who know technology best) already do this and appreciate the tech-free time. In a 2018 ASHA survey of these parents, 68 percent of respondents said they set device time limits for their children at home, while nearly 75 percent restrict tech use at the dinner table, social events and similar gatherings. Taking those moments to talk and connect with your child could be something you build into a regular routine.
- Lead by example. Perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to keep your kids engaged and lower-tech this summer is to model the kind of behavior you’d like to see in them. Kids learn by example-and the biggest example they’ll see regarding technology use will come from you. Demonstrating your own commitment to carving out offline time and pursuing other interests will set the tone for the entire family’s screen use.
Leisure time and tech time shouldn’t be one in the same. Implementing small, but impactful ways to moderate kids’ technology use in favor of human interaction, whether at home, on vacation or out in the community, can help set them up for a successful school year.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 198,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.