There was a time (not that long ago) when we were told to not let children watch television for over an hour. That shows like Sesame Street, Barney, and Blues Clues would “stunt” the child’s mental growth. As parents and caretakers, we were in control; turn off the television and let them play with their toys. Little did we know what the future had in store: tablets and cell phones.
Children start navigating phones and iPads from the age of one. What happens when we take it away from the child? Total meltdown. It is a new addiction, one we control and encourage. It seems crazy to think of our children as addicts, but it is the same behavior as one going through withdrawals—screaming, throwing things, and sleepless nights. Have you noticed your child continuously rubbing their eyes or blinking to help them focus? It is what you experience after working on the computer at work or school: eye fatigue. It occurs when the eyes get tired from intense use, such as staring at the computer or digital device. As adults, it is difficult for us to manage stress and fatigue. Imagine for a toddler.
During these formative years, from birth to age five, children need us to teach them; how to talk (use your words), interact with others, and play. When the child is calling the name of the parent or caretaker and there is no response because they are preoccupied with technology, it teaches the child that the phone or computer is more important than them. Now when the child uses technology, they may misbehave and become defiant.
Technology is great, but a child’s mental health and development are a priority. Being with someone for hours but not being present is a quantity of time; being present and interacting with someone is a quality of time. Toddlers need quality time and 12-14 hours of sleep per day. Please put down the phone. Instead, read a book or sing a song and use it as part of quality time instead of allowing the child to use the device on their own. Limit their time on the digital device during the day and do not use it at bedtime when they need to rest. (Plus, once they are sleeping, now you can engage in a little self-care!)
Although restricting technology use for our children can be challenging, it is for their best interest. Keep in mind that they remember what you do and how you make them feel.
Looking for more tips and guidance? JFS Orlando’s counselors are specialized in various areas and are here to support you. Telehealth counseling appointments now available! Medicare, Medicaid, and almost all insurances are accepted. Sliding scale available for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept. Call 407-644-7671 or complete our new online form to request an appointment today!
Jean-Ann Moses, MA is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. Jean-Ann’s first career was in banking, but after realizing she wanted something more she returned to school to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
Jean-Ann brings a unique perspective, having training and work experience with a variety of areas and settings. Jean-Ann works with teens, adults, couples, and families. Jean-Ann’s treatment focus is trauma, grief, woman’s issues, and mood disorders.