Raising tech crazy tots in Chicago

Question:We don’t allow our 3-year-old to use technology at home, but he seems obsessed with the computer at his day care center. Should I be concerned?

It’s not unusual for children to look forward to computer activities-or any activities-at school that they do not have access to at home.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend screen time for children 2 or younger, use of technology in day care programs varies greatly. Some day care centers may make computers and tablets available to children even younger than 2. Others may minimize technology access for kids under 5.

Talk to your child about why he likes playing on the computer. Then, talk to your child’s provider to get a clear understanding of how the technology is used. Here are a few tips to help that conversation:

Understand the content. Are children using games to learn colors, the alphabet or just to pass the time during the morning drop-off? Ask to see the games the children are playing.

Explain your concerns. There are many reasons you may want your child to participate in activities away from the computer. Talk to your child’s teacher about skills you feel your child needs to work on and ways to steer him to those activities. “I’d prefer Timmy interact with other children at the train table because I feel he needs to work on his social skills.”

Find out about other activities. Activities you see occurring during drop-off and pick-up may not accurately represent your child’s overall interest level. Ask how your child reacts to other activities throughout the day, such as art or outside play.

Create a healthy foundation. Your habits at home now will provide a foundation for a healthy balance between technology and other activities later. For now, use family time for reading and playing together. “I’m going to turn my phone off for the rest of the night so we can read some books together and relax.”

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