What do you need to know about technology and your child's development? If you're confused about screen time and everything else you've heard about early tech use, you aren't alone. Take a look at what parents of preschoolers need to know about technology and daycare.
What is Screen Time?
Screen time is a concept most parents have already heard about. But this doesn't mean it isn't still confusing. How much screen time is acceptable for your young child? What should your child watch on a screen? Is it good or bad to completely eliminate screen time from the young child's daily routine? These and other questions are concerns that you need to address—possibly with help from your child's pre-K teacher.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should limit screen time to no more than one hour of high-quality programming each day for children ages two and up. Excessive screen time can reduced time spent reading books and cause sleep disruptions, weight gain, or mood problems in children.
Is Technology Use Safe for Preschoolers?
Given the problems screen time can cause—is technology use a safe, healthy activity for young children? Again, the AAP recommends limiting screen time and choosing high-quality, educational programs.
Even though you need to set limits on your child's overall screen time, technology use is an important part of the developing student's life. As your preschooler moves into the elementary years (and later, middle and high schools), they'll need to use technology to research, write, and more. This means your child will need to learn about technology in safe, education-forward ways during the preschool years. This can happen at home, at daycare, or in both settings.
How Should Preschoolers Use Technology in Daycare or at Home?
You already know hours spent in front of the TV or an afternoon of watching videos on your smartphone aren't beneficial ways for your child to interact with technology. But you're still not sure how to choose the right types of technology, programs, software, or apps for your child to use.
Start with your child's preschool teacher. The early childhood educator understands the developmental aspects of technology use and can help you to find beneficial activities. Ask the teacher how the children use technology in the classroom or if they have suggestions for at-home computer or tablet use. The more engaged your child is the better. Instead of passive screen time, your child should actively participate in the technology experience in a hands-on/mind-on way—especially in the child care setting.
Preschoolers need to interact with technology in an interactive, hands-on way. They can also use specialized programs or apps to build skills and learn about new concepts. These include early literacy software or e-books, child-friendly websites that focus on preschool class content (such as animals, math, or other cultures), and other educational programs.