When Children Use Technology, Let Common Sense Prevail

Are there any parenting sites that you find useful and, if so, which ones and why?

Common Sense Media is an excellent resource for all media recommendations. I particularly like using it for apps. I feel fairly equipped to assess whether TV or movies are appropriate for my kids, but I am often at a loss when it comes to apps.

The sites I use most as a reporter and an editor are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, Healthy Children; and PubMed, where I look up studies all the time. Part of the usefulness of the Times Parenting site is that we read all of the research and recommendations from experts and distill it down to answer your questions in a readable, accessible way.

[Is your child a digital addict? Here’s what you can do.]

Tech use among children is a big issue, including questions about how early children should be using tech, how long each day they should be spending on screens and the like. What do you tell parents who ask about that?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that kids under 18 months should use screens only to do video chats with relatives, and that kids under 6 should have only one hour a day of “high-quality programs” that they watch with grown-ups, who can contextualize the shows for them.

While I believe in the A.A.P. as an ideal, I also am a person with two kids, a full-time job and a husband who also has a full-time job, which means we are tired and our household does not always live up to the A.A.P. standards. During the week we follow the guidelines, but on the weekends our kids definitely zombie out in front of the TV for several hours at a clip. (But they also go outside, and read, and we take them places, and they are not totally feral.)

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I also really love TV and movies, and think they are underappreciated as a way that kids can bond with one another. If you sit and listen to preschoolers chat, you will hear them talk about which PJ Masks character is their favorite and hear them do fantasy play about Wakanda. Even kindergartners have water-cooler talk.

[Read Jessica Grose on children’s TV shows you can tolerate watching.]

And some apps, like Me: A Kid’s Diary, are genuinely interactive and educational. I believe Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader helped my older daughter learn to read and spell.

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