Be a Digital Role Model

Limiting your child's screen time is important. But your own digital habits may be more so.

From the television to the computer to the smartphone, your day is filled with media. Your Sproutlet's day is, too.

Set a positive example for your budding technophile with your own good media habits. Here are five quick and easy ways:

Go Face-to-Face. Always prioritize active, social interaction above passive interaction. Visit with a friend in person. If that's not possible, then opt for a phone call. Text only when necessary. Young children benefit from observing facial cues and hearing verbal interaction.

Share Your Values. Your child learns about your values when you share your thoughts about media choices: "After I get my work done, I'm going to watch my favorite show. I like this show because it teaches me how to fix cars. I love shows that teach me something new."

Give Commentary. Texting and emailing are silent forms of communication. A young child has little concept of what you are doing. Help your child understand: "Mommy is in a meeting. I don't want her phone to make a loud noise, so I'm going to write some quiet words about our date tonight and send them to her. Now she knows to meet us at your favorite restaurant!"

Be Creative. Use technology for productive means. Demonstrate this to your child. "I'm taking a picture of the birdhouse we made. When we have a lot of pictures, let's print a book about the beautiful things we have made together."

Be Together. Look for ways to make media more interactive. Sharing a screen is much more interactive than everyone having their own. Watch television together, compose an email together or have a video game tournament. Experience media as a family.

Put It Down. Make eye contact when you speak. Multitasking is a part of every parent's life, but good manners should take precedence. When your little one has a question, put down the phone, turn away from the computer screen or turn down the volume on the TV.  

Put It Away. Just as we put our little ones to bed, there are times when we should put media to bed. Perhaps your phone takes a nap at mealtimes. Your computer might go to bed at dinnertime. Decide as a family when that is. Follow your own rules and your child will, too.