Niall Mulrine

Technology: How much of our lives do we spend on social media? Pt 2

Social media

CONTINUING on from the previous article on how much life do we live on social media, we will now focus on how screen time habits can be easily formed with children without parents intentionally meaning to do so.

Apparently, children aged up to 21 years of age need direction, boundaries and rules so as not to cross the line between the moral and immoral. This is where a good relationship with parents can help the child think for themselves in a way that will make them question their own values.

Boundary setting is a problematic stage of parent-child relationship, consistency with parenting decisions and practices are essential as we all know children are very good at identifying any weaknesses and acting on them to their own advantage.


Children may not be able to tie their shoelaces, but they can create virtual worlds Some children are mastering the art of gaming whilst basics such as potty training, learning to cycle a bike, climb a tree etc. are being neglected.

Developers identify this need in parent’s circumstances for basics that they are developing apps to aid in the learning stages, such as potty training apps. Some parents are rewarding their child’s potty training successes with an extra chunk of screen time. Even so far as to give the child an iPad whilst sitting on the potty to help keep the child sitting until they do their toilet business. Having them play on the iPad while toilet training may seem like a good idea however we should think about what this is teaching the child.

Are we throwing too many devices at our children to keep them entertained? According to a research study carried out by CommonSenseMedia in 2013, 38% children under age of 2 years of age have used a mobile device for media purposes. 17% of under 2’s are using a mobile device on a daily basis such as an iPad or Smartphone in 2013.
The same report recorded children under 8 were using on average a mobile device for 1 hour and 55 minutes per day, with the 5-8 years old consuming the most at 2 hours and 21 minutes per day. Some of the games the children play are Angry Birds, Potty Time, Baby Dress Up, Top-It Math and lots more cartoon character games.

XBOX is our babysitter
Parents can use technology to pacify the children so they can do their routine house duties. Sometimes parents may rely on the games console to look after their children whilst they leave the house to run an errand. 13% of parents in the same study admitted that these use the media to occupy the children whilst carrying out chores and 42% say they do this.

Children still love reading Paper!
Some of the positive facts coming out of the study detailed how children are reading the same amount they had been in the previous 2 years when a similar study was done. This is a massive welcome for the worrying techie parents who think there is too much technology in the world.

Even with the growth of Kindle’s, e-readers and Tablets, children and parents alike, enjoy the paperback editions of books. Countless research studies discover that bedtime reading is some of the best quality time spent with your child as it emphasises the importance of words and pictures to tell a story.

We can often find our children reading a children’s book displaying pronunciation of words we cannot get our tongues around, just from the occurrence of repetition of a story. I remember my 3 year old daughter reading pages of a children’s book and thought she was mastering reading way too early. In fact she was remembering the words on the pages associated with pictures from memory of the previous night of bed time reading.


Reading enlarges the children’s creativity side, which will visible during play time, at school, travelling and studying in later life. Imagination is important to a child and we often wonder what they are thinking, as a result of some of the stories they tell us.

Take away their imagination and it takes away their fun. Are we running the risk as parents of introducing too much technology to a child’s life with the resulting loss of imagination and creativity?

Video killed the radio Star
In today’s world the device is killing the child’s reading of books. There are so many electronic devices in a home now that children can connect online very easily anytime and it is challenging to escape from easy access to a web page. On average a 2.4 children’s home will contain 13 internet connected devices.

Thinking to yourself that this is very high figure, I suggest a quick count of your electronic devices. The obvious items are computers, laptops, Tablets that are attached to an internet connection, but don’t forget the SmartTV, Xbox, PS3, PSP, LeapFrog devices, SmartPhones, eReaders, iPods and even fridges!!!

What can I do now to protect my children from too much internet?
•Set time limits of the devices that the children are using. Basically, don’t be in the habit of allowing the children jump onto a laptop, Xbox or phone once they come in from school until dinner is ready.
•Pay attention to what the children are doing on their devices. Cold turkey is never a solution to changing a child’s daily activities. Parents have seen aggression hit heights when this happens and it often scares parents how addicted their children have become over a short period of time.
•Remove the device from the child. If the child does not listen when you request they stay off a device the solution maybe to remove it physically for a short period of time. Some say a reward system is a positive intervention to a tantrum which may flare from the removal of the device
• Sit and talk with your child on why it’s very important to not just be online. Explain how they are missing out in life’s natural gifts. Tell them some of the stories of when you were young and how you made play shops, tree houses and go-karts to keep yourself amused.
Get involved more with children’s fun. Get out a sheet of paper on the kitchen table with a few markers. Watch where this journey can take both you and the child. Lift a jigsaw out of the cupboard that will keep their little minds working for some time. The feeling of accomplishment when completed is heart-warming to watch.

Next article will deal will talk of substitutes for “The Device” If you would like a workshop for a parents association, workplace conference, sports centre talk and any other venues, please contact me on 086-2377033

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