CMPC Foundation: How to manage children’s use of screen time?

CMPC Foundation invited two experts to a webinar to delve into how to handle this kind of relationship that’s come to stay.

On average in Chile, children get their first phone at age 10, and more than 90% have their own device by age 13 according to the Digital Discretion Snapshot Survey. The role that parents and caregivers play in terms of their children’s relationship with screens has become a weighty topic.

Trends indicate that these figures will keep growing, so CMPC Foundation decided to hold the webinar: “Screens and technology in childhood: The role of mediators”. Invited speakers included Paulina Ruiz, PhD in Education and Academics from the University of Bristol in England, and José Pablo Escobar, PhD and MD in Psychology and Associate Researcher in Tecnologies at CEDETi-UC.

The experts have no magic bullet or unique method for trying to regulate childrens’ screentime, but they do have some tips to help maintain a more balanced relationship with new technologies.
CMPC Foundation Executive Director Carolina Andueza said, “Each family is its own universe, but we can’t let technology take on the role of caregiver. Interacting with our children, especially when they are little, is irreplaceable.”

So what is the role of a mediator? The academic Paulina Ruiz suggests that we, “Understand parental mediation as a balance, which I think has come out somewhat in our discussion so far. It’s a balance between regulating and restricting, but also being someone who encourages the use of resources while opening dialogue to create opportunity.”

She added, “For children under two years of age, screens do not replace personal interaction. Little children, before they start talking, babies benefit a lot from face-to-face interaction and very close attention and care-giving.”

In early childhood, she said, “The use of screens should be one activity among many others that don’t use any technology. Whenever possible, and it depends on the age of the children in the household, but there should be a family plan where negotiation is an option. Obviously, with very young children it can be more difficult, but that doesn’t mean the interaction has to be a conversation. It may be nonverbal interaction.”

“With very young children it is important to give preference to interacting with real objects, and with caregivers, above all, because of its significance for sensory and motor development,” Carolina Andueza emphasized.

In the same vein, José Pablo Escobar stressed that “Children need to interact with the real world”, because for children under two years of age “It is important to develop every sensory and motor skill in order to build their entire structure of intelligence.”

He said when it comes to children’s and adolescent’s use of screens and technology, “We must consider the situation and context of every family, and consider the specific needs they have, as well as the reason time is being spent in front of the screen.” He pointed out that problems begin when “Children stop doing other things so they can be in front of the screen or when children deprive themselves of time spent with other kids or going out as a family to interact with each other.”

If you want to watch the full webinar again, you can find it on our HIPPY Chile YouTube channel as “Screens and technology: Our role as mediators”.