With Christmas here, some children may ask you to get them new computers, better internet at home, maybe e-readers or other electronic gadgets. If your family budget can accommodate them, these can be a huge help for your child in school, keeping students excited about learning outside the classroom, or motivating them to hit a specific goal such as perfect attendance or a B in math.

But there is such a thing as overstimulation. We all understand the concept of limiting TV viewing or computer game time, and computers should be approached the same way. Growing children need a minimum level of physical activity daily in order to grow and develop. Pediatricians are already seeing that young children who regularly spend too much time with their electronics are less socialized and less physically active than their peers. They can also have shorter attention spans, making it harder for them to focus in class and to absorb and retain information – essential skills for progressing in school.

So how much time is too much for a school-age child? As a parent, you know best. Let your knowledge of your child’s attention span guide you, and be conscious of the example you and your older children set. This is easier said than done when you have your own shiny toy, but is there anyone among us who wouldn’t benefit from a little more time away from TV or computer screens?

Then, of course, consider some old-school “interactive” technology: a book. Children’s books are a perfect opportunity to spend time together and bond with your child as only face-to-face interactions can do. If you need suggestions, have a look at this Christmas list of best holiday children’s books, and this wrap-up of the year’s best. They may not all make it by Christmas Day, but you’ll still have a whole year’s worth of stimulation  and excitement to look forward to – no internet time needed.

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