Tech expert reveals what to do if your kids are spending too much time on the computer

Are your children spending too much time on tablets/PCs? Shereen D’Souza speaks to expert Chinua Mosley on what to do

Tech expert reveals what to do if your kids are spending too much time on the computer
Tech expert reveals what to do if your kids are spending too much time on the computer Image #2

The most common sight at family gatherings these days is the kids escaping to play on their phones and tablets. According to public statistics, children aged between three and 11 years old spend an average of about 2.5 hours a day in front of screens. These figures have been fairly consistent for the last few years, however, the percentage of that time spent on tablets and mobile devices has increased from five minutes a day to 48 minutes. Though televisions tend to be placed in family areas and are relatively easy to monitor, the portability of tablets leads children to find quiet areas away from everyone.

We speak to instructional technology specialist at ACS Doha International School Chinua Mosley about why and how these devices should be managed. “Research shows that children often spend time on their mobile devices engaged in content that their parents aren’t interested in or won’t approve of. It is not just about the appropriateness of content,” Mosley says. “Media can be a problem when it becomes a replacement for physical activity, in-person interactions and engaging in hands-on activities, all of which are crucial to proper development. Research has also shown that excessive device usage can lead to speech delays and decreased emotional intelligence,” he adds.

Create a media plan
The first step is determining the amount of screen time that is appropriate for your child, select the times and locations the screen in question should not be used. For example, the device can’t be used between 7pm and 10am, and shouldn’t be used in bedrooms. “In your media plan, you should set aside some time to view your child’s chosen content with them. This would be an excellent time to bond with them, and it would help to give you an idea of what types of content they are into. Explicitly lay out your expectations. This includes your expectations for social media use and what you think is appropriate and inappropriate,” explains Mosley. Several websites are available to help guide parents through the creation of their media plan.

Managing devices
“Managing devices is typically split between managing apps, managing internet usage and managing the device itself,” he says. There are various tools you can use to manage all of them simultaneously. Apple, Google and Microsoft all have free apps or systems that allow guardians to manage the content on their respective devices. Apple has multiple parental tools spread over multiple areas in the iOS landscape, these are all listed in one place. The Screen Time app on iOS 12 is ideal. Google has a similar app for Android devices called Google Family Link for Parents and Microsoft devices have Microsoft Family. It comes installed on all Microsoft 10 devices. Mosley explains there are multiple ways to set it up, but the most straightforward way is to open the Microsoft Family website and send your child an invitation to your family. “They must accept your invitation before you can manage their devices. Microsoft Family users can also manage Android devices to a limited degree. You need to install and run the Microsoft Launcher on an Android device. Then you can have your child log in to the Microsoft Launcher using their managed account.”

If you want to manage different types of devices in one place, Qustodio is a third-party management app that works with Apple, Android and Windows devices. It’s free for one device, QR200 per year for five devices and QR400 per year for ten devices.

Mosley says, “The devices that our children use are neither good nor bad. They’ve opened up a world of knowledge and connectedness the world has never seen before.” He adds on a concluding note, “However, they’ve also opened up a world of dangers that haven’t been seen before. Our children are reliant on our guidance and protection to make sure that they are navigating through this world properly. We should use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that that happens.”

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