As a parent, the bedroom is your child’s only personal sanctuary. When they’re at home or school, they often have people telling them what to do. So, when your child asks you if they can have a computer or TV in their bedroom, a room that might be difficult for you to supervise, you might have to make a difficult decision.
On the one hand, your child may need a computer for school. But a TV? Not so much. Even if your child needs a computer for school, there’s always a chance they could spend more time playing video games, watching inappropriate material or talking to strangers online instead of toiling away on that book report.
So, what’s a parent to do? Studies show the jury is still out in terms of how screen time affects brain development in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has weighed in with their recommendations for monitoring your child’s media use:
Based on these findings, you probably shouldn’t put a TV or computer in your child’s room if they’re age 6 or younger. But, if your child is a few years older, you’ll need to set limits in terms of how often they use their new device. Putting a computer or TV in your child’s room may be innocent enough as long as it isn’t interfering with their studies, social life, and sleep schedule.
But every family is different, and you still have to make the best decision for your child.
At the end of the day, you might decide it’s better to keep the computer or TV out of your child’s bedroom. Maybe they’re too young, you’re already concerned that your child isn’t as social as you like them to be or they’re having problems in school and giving them their own device doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
Whatever the case may be, talk with your child about how you came to this decision. If you’re worried about your child accessing inappropriate material or talking to strangers online, tell them you’d rather keep the computer or TV in the living room or basement, so you can better monitor their activities online. Help your child understand how these devices can affect their mood and behavior, so they don’t end up resenting you for this decision.
Now, let’s say that you do decide to give in to your child and put a TV or computer in their bedroom. To help even things out, you can also ask your child to join an extracurricular activity in return for agreeing to put a computer or TV in their room. If you’re worried about online predators, pornography and other forms of inappropriate content, make sure you can find reliable parent control and device monitoring tools that will put your cares to rest before putting a screen in your child’s bedroom.
This can be a difficult decision for many parents, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re still undecided. These digital devices are still relatively new, so cut yourself some slack as you figure out how to navigate this new parental landscape.
Remember, you can try putting a computer or TV in your child’s room and see how they respond. If they become more isolative, irritable, or even depressed, you can always take the screen away. Tell your child you will let them have a TV or computer in their room on a trial basis, but they have to agree to keep their grades up, try new activities that don’t involve screens, and maintain a positive attitude.
Choosing whether to put a digital device in your child’s bedroom all depends on your child, your family, and your parenting style. Think it over carefully and talk to your child about how you came to this decision.