Tips From the CFSL: Young Children & Screen Time

If you’re the parent of a toddler or young child, you may be familiar with the strong desire to provide everything possible for their optimal physical and mental growth, but the opposing problem of not knowing exactly how to do that or where to look for guidance in such a monumental task. Your own parents and friends can be great resources. Know also, though, that our own Child and Family Studies Laboratory has gone to great lengths to learn and apply appropriate growth-encouraging methods, and has many tips to share with you. Among those are pointers on how to encourage and control their screen time.

These days, it is impossibly to deny the utility and perhaps even the value of introducing computers and other devices to young children. They can be another tool for children to explore, to investigate, and to master. The CFSL considers them a valuable asset, as long as they’re geared to the way young children learn and develop. Parents are encouraged to so as well, with these tips:

Tips for Appropriate Computer and Device Usage by Young Children

  • Place the home computer where children can interact with you as they work with it. They are developing social skills during these years, so it is helpful to have either a parent or older sibling at the computer at all times with them. This arrangement allows for collaborative problem solving and sharing of ideas.
  • Choose sites or software with verbal instructions or picture menus that allow children to work with little adult intervention. Children need to have opportunities to work independently of adults, and they learn by doing. is a great example.
  • Developmentally appropriate software is open-ended and calls for thinking and active problem solving.

child at computer

Check out these tips and others on their Parent Tips blog.

What sites or software has your young child enjoyed?


Photo courtesy of Flickr.