It is now even needless to mention that internet is an integral part of our lives.However, like all other elements, it is necessary to ensure that we make the best possible use of it.This article series will try to provide some glimpse on this from different dimensions. This first part is from health perspective.
How much time in average should be spent on internet daily?
It is a difficult question without any standard answer. Because, it will vary based on the need of a person in accordance with his/her profession,lifestyle and other perspectives. We can better try to find whether there are any standard criteria from health(both physical and psychological)angle.
It is better to use the term "screen time" in this regard; which is quite identical with the time we spend online in all sort of devices (desktops,laptops, tabs, smartphones etc.). In recent time there has been lot of analysis to sort out acceptable range of screen time for children. Any defined guideline from a global organization (like: WHO or UNICEF)regarding this is yet to come. Some solid recommendations have been made by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), like:
• For children younger than 18months, avoiding use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
• For children aged 2 to 5 years,limiting screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
• For children ages 6 and older,placing consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep,physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
Also, they have encouraged parents to develop personalized media use plans for their children. Media plans should take into account each child’s age,health, personality, and developmental stage. Media plan indicates a holistic scheme containing different activities like:
Having certain areas of home screen free.
Certain times (like: dinnertime,family chatting period & before bedtime) should be screen free.
Reviewing the Apps being used in children’s devices and making sure that only useful ones remain installed.
Joint participation (co-viewing and co-playing) with children during online activities.
Now how to implement these recommendations- especially when it is always difficult to deploy restriction on internet or smart device usage? These are possible by using various apps or software in the devices being used by children,usually known as "Parental Control"solutions. Parents can remotely monitor and restrict time, place and contents that children view online through such parental control solutions. Functionality of these solutions will be discussed in detail sin the next part of this article series.■