Establishing Limits on Kids Technology Use

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Establishing Limits on Kids Technology Use


Establishing Limits on Kids Technology Use

March 9, 2022

Why is establishing limits on kids technology use so important?! Well, kids little brains are more susceptible to social influence than adults. Starting around the age of 10 to 12, children’s brains undergo a major shift that causes them to seek social rewards – which means getting attention & approval from their peers. This makes them much more vulnerable to be exploited by social media.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests one hour a day of screen time for those 2 to 5 years old but for kids 6 and up, it is up to their parents to establish limits. How do you establish limits when so much is online in your kids life?!

As a psychologist, I know it’s more important to focus on the content viewed and the context of its use rather than how much time a child is spending on technology.

Let’s talk some statistics. 58% of parents worry about social media’s influence on their kids psychological and physical health. 48% say regulating child screen time is a constant battle … and I know it is in my house … but technology and social media are not all bad. Often, it’s the parents that lack the understanding that social media & gaming are new forms of socialization and they are integral parts of their kids lives.

Some of the potential problems that kids face related to technology are cyber bullying, Facebook & Instagram depression, exposure to inappropriate content and compulsive use. More than 20 studies have found a use of social media is associated with body image concerns and disordered eating. Those high in appearance comparison are affected the most. Girls spend more time on social media than boys and have more exposure to cyber bullying & more mental health affects – such as depression, self harm & suicide – in comparison to boys because of social media

Now, the list goes on & on but experiencing some level of risk is important to build resiliency both online and offline. Poor integration of social media in formal and informal learning networks can reinforce social exclusion and you don’t want your kids to be isolated from others. It would seem that balance is certainly key when there is bad, there’s also an associated good. Online activities and video games do provide opportunities for learning, creativity, identity formation, socialization, relaxation, stress relief and can really enhance kids well-being.

So what should you as a parent do now that you have all this information?!

1 –  Join your kids on social media.

2 – Explain compulsive use and explore how they may feel that way or how they may experience FOMO (fear of missing out). Tell them it’s normal to have that experience!

3 – Don’t overreact! It’s part of the modern world and setting overly restrictive limits sends the wrong message to your kids.

4 – Teach your kids how to respect technology early on.

5 – Use your judgment & teach them to use theirs. Don’t assume that technology is negative. Consider the context like we’ve been saying!

6 – Protect bedtime. Consider no technology 30 minutes before bedtime. It causes sleep deprivation because of so much stimulation.

7 – Teach & model good online behavior yourself. People say things online they would never say in person.

8 – Discuss digital decision-making. For instance, you want to help your kids to learn what & who they can trust and who is trying to scam them. You also want to teach them how to manage unsolicited and inappropriate messages that come in online. The digital world teaches us about life and how to manage it.

9 – Foster real life friendships and relationships outside of digital relationships. The digital ones are not replacements but do not be judgmental because digital relationships are important and a normal part of socialization today. But again, having outside relationships are important as well as physical activity for your kids mental well-being.

10 – Be open to learning from your kids.

Parents, I challenge you to be bold and don’t be afraid of technology. Meet your kids in their world. Your children are waiting!

Don’t be afraid to reach out to me, your friends that know more than you about technology or other professionals if you need additional resources.