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Screen time is not all that bad.

For better or for worse, the advancement of technology has permeated every aspect of our lives and profoundly affects the way we live. Digital literacy has become an essential part of a child’s development now more than ever. As parents, it is important to recognise that not all screen time is bad. Instead, we should learn to embrace and adapt to it positively.

Here are tips to help ensure your child uses screen time positively:

1.  Educate them when they’re little

Don’t wait till they turn into sullen teens intent on keeping their own privacy. Teach your young kids now about a balanced approach towards technology. Keep an open and honest conversation with your child about the positive and negative impact of screen time. Instil in them good habits for self-control. Like everything else, there will come a time where it will be impossible for you to monitor your child. So before that time comes, you will need to perhaps be less militant and give them the space to learn to make the right decisions.

2.  Technology together, not apart

Studies have shown that engaging technology together is a wonderful way to bond with the family. There are plenty of high-quality materials in the market that promotes active engagement amongst family members. Whether it is having a dance-off on your Playstation4 or working together to deliver a variety of dishes with Overcooked, your children would love to see the fun side of you. If you are in for some downtime, perhaps you could stream a movie on Netflix that the whole family can enjoy together?

If bursting the internet quota is a worry, families could opt for a plan like MaxisONE Prime which allows them to rest easy with the magic word – unlimited. Unlimited mobile internet for the whole family (principal and all shared lines), all under one easily manageable package. As the average Malaysian spends a total of RM229 on data, with MaxisONE Prime, they can save up to RM42 per month*.

*depending on size of household

3. Parents to promise too

Even as adults, we may have moments of weakness when spend a little too much time scrolling our Instagram feed. Unfortunately, unless you lock yourself up in the bathroom, you most likely have little pairs of eyes observing you. According to Anya Kamenetz, author of The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life, “Managing your own use is crucial to successfully helping your kids self-manage.” It starts with having a family agreement on what is a reasonable amount of time to be spent on our screens, for everyone. Some families go to the extent of signing a pledge which could be something your family could do too.

4. Keep the connections strong

Let the kids understand the very best thing about technology – that it allows us to keep loved ones close. Programmes such as Skype and FaceTime allow us to stay in touch on a regular basis without costing us much. Our children may easily communicate with their grandparents who might live in a different state or with a cousin who might be in a different country. In this instance, do not worry about the screen at all. Having back and forth conversations helps with their language skills and social interactions!

If you as a parent had to be away for a work trip, separation anxiety would certainly be minimised thanks to technology. Parents and families who are MaxisONE Prime customers can take all the time in the world for calls with their little ones, with unlimited Free Family Roaming in all ASEAN countries. Gone are the days of watching the clock, worrying about those crazy roaming charges!

5.  Encourage Resourcefulness

Your children could be like the students who are taking more responsibility for their own learning, using technology to gather information. Programmes such as Google Classroom provides opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate in ways that were previously undreamt of.

Your child could learn to be resourceful not only through educational materials but through games as well. Kim Komando writes about the hidden benefits of Minecraft, a popular computer game, for USA Today: “One overlooked value of most strategy-based video games is resource management. The player has a finite amount of resources at any given time and needs to decide wisely how to use them most effectively.”

Although your child, even you, may not notice at the time, these skills are essential for later on in life. It is your role as a parent, to ensure that technology is rightly utilised. Organisations like Common Sense Media lists reviews about age-appropriate apps, games and programmes to guide you in making the best choices for your children.

6.  Recognise behavioural changes

There are plenty of guidelines out there on how much screen time a child should get. However, we need to recognise that every child is different. As a parent, it is important to watch out for changes in your child’s behaviour. Do they experience bedtime and wake up battles? Do they suffer from mood swings, is there any loss in appetite or any sudden weight gain? These could be signs that they are spending too much time with their devices. Speak to your pediatrician about it if necessary. As a rule of thumb, screen time should not affect sleep, studies, family time and exercise time. You could have the option to control your kids’ internet time by assigning internet quotas such as MaxisONE Prime DataPool.

7.  Tools for filtering and monitoring

You can support your child’s learning with the right content. But with such a wide and scary variety of websites and information out there, how can you be sure your child is surfing safely? Statistics show that a low percentage of parents installed parental control software because 59 per cent of them never heard of such software.

But there are many programmes available that can assist you in monitoring your child’s usage, such as MaxisONE Prime’s KidNanny. The only parental control for cyber safety you’ll need, KidNanny allows you to filter inappropriate websites and ensure that your child can only access family-friendly apps. You can also manage and track screen time and remotely prevent unwanted access to your child’s device.

8.  Stranger danger

Children need to be instilled with proper internet etiquette and learn to be diligent about what is being posted. They need to understand that anything they post online, will forever be part of their internet footprint. Where possible, try to ensure that your child’s privacy setting is set to the maximum. Once they have reached a certain age, talk to them about the existence of sex offenders and the possibilities of them hiding behind different identities in social networking sites and online games, among others. They should be confident enough to know to leave the website and inform a trusted adult immediately if they feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried.

 

This post is sponsored by Maxis, now with the MaxisONE Prime, an easily manageable family plan that provides unlimited internet for your home and all your mobile lines. This plan is open to new and existing Maxis customers. Just subscribe to any MaxisONE Plan and any MaxisONE Home Fibre Plan to enjoy all of these MaxisONE Prime benefits: