Technology: Guidance for Families

8/9s Guidance

We recommend

  • Setting limits on children's daily screen time. Screen time includes any media - interactive or passive, done on a device such as a smartphone, handheld gaming device, tablet, laptop, computer or television. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen media time to 1 to 2 hours a day, and recommends discouraging screen media in children under the age of 2. The School for Children recommends limiting exposure to no more than 1 hour of screen media time a day for 8/9s.   Many families choose no screen time for their children and we fully support this as well. 
  • Children may begin independently exploring the Internet. Adults should be nearby to monitor children's activity closely. Computers and devices should be kept in common, highly visible spaces within the home, and not inside children's bedrooms.
  • Children should already know the difference between advertisements and the content they are viewing, but continue to talk about the ways they may be marketed to online, on television, within apps and on other devices.
  • Remembering that together time is about eye contact and communication, not being distracted by a device.
  • Modeling appropriate use of technology according to the rules in your home, for example no devices at the dinner table.
  • Keeping laptops, Internet devices and devices with webcams in public, highly visible spaces within your home and not in your child's own room.
  • Having conversations with other families about the use of technology during playdates and overnights.  It is helpful to discuss media/technology expectations with families that host your child for playdates and overnights and negotiate differences in advance. 
  • Children may begin to use mobile devices and computers independently. Adults should monitor such use closely and be aware of all applications and games installed and handle all purchases.
  • iTunes should be used with an adult who handles downloads, purchases and applications. We do not recommend children have an iTunes account.
  • Some videos on YouTube may be appropriate for your child. Adults should supervise children's access to this site. Children should only visit the site and watch videos adults have previewed. Have a conversation with your child about the ways YouTube automatically links to other videos or advertisements, some of which are inappropriate for 8/9s.
  • Some 8/9s will show an interest in online gaming. Some online gaming communities (e.g. Webkinz, Minecraft, Club Penguin) may be appropriate for your child. You should know about and oversee your child’s participation in these communities. Visit Common Sense Media to see educator and age level ratings for games your child is interested in playing. 
  • You should restrict the chat feature in any online communities in which your child participates.
  • Skype or Facetime may be used with an adult to communicate with family and friends.

We do not recommend

  • Email
  • Unmonitored use of devices
  • Computers or devices in children's bedrooms
  • Personal cell phones and smartphones
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media access
  • Blogging (e.g., Tumblr)
  • Foursquare and other location-based services
  • Using screen devices routinely to entertain your child when she/he has to wait. Children develop self regulation better through books, drawing, I-spy games and other engaging offline activities.

Additional Thoughts

Computers may be used when appropriate as a tool to enhance curriculum in school. We recommend that if students in the 8/9s also use such devices and appropriate programs at home, you should be nearby monitoring closely. Devices should be kept in highly visible spaces within your home and not in your child's own room. Set clear boundaries about which applications and Internet sites are appropriate (and permissible) and are not appropriate for your child. It is important to set limits on the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen, and to allow for creative play, exercise and family activities vital to his/her development.

As a final note, although we do not recommend children have their own social media profiles (e.g., Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds), older family members may. Be mindful of your child's exposure and the ways your young child is portrayed online and avoid leaving a digital footprint that may have unintended consequences, both now and later in life.