It depends on what your concerns are. A good place to start is inform yourself on everything from privacy to addiction and how this relates to your child. A better informed person about anything always makes wiser decisions.
For our family, we avoid technology until we need it and this works well… So I wouldn’t have good advice for you. If you your kids use technology for entertainment- or even socializing this is different- it’s tough raising kids today!!
I came across this video yesterday which may be of some help to you http://youtu.be/tP_MSOR3Wo8?a. It’s an interview with a mother who had to remove the XBox completely from her home.
A point she touches upon that I also find to be central in this question of digital health for children, is that health of any kind requires measured behavior, decision making and self-control, and given that the human brain doesn’t complete it’s full development until about the age of 25, can we really expect that from children?
I have come across parents with all kinds of different feelings about how much tech their children should be exposed to, but the most important element I find in children’s digital health is parental involvement. Having lots of conversations with children about what they are doing online, speaking with them openly about the dark sides of the online world, letting them know they can always come to you if anything bad happens to them while they are gaming, and really framing their relationship with technology as one that should enrich their lives and contribute to them in positive ways. If it isn’t doing that and the child is too young to regulate their usage (as they often are), then perhaps a tech detox is necessary.
The iGen or Generation Z born after 1995 are born into this technology. It is extremely difficult to keep tech out of anyone’s life anymore, unless they are electrohypersensitive and move to Green Bay, West Virginia, which is a quiet zone with no cell phone reception, as there are no cell towers. These digital natives have 3 types of parents.
Parents who give them complete digital freedom and no tech guidance. They are always on the net, play games to excess and are extremely tech-savvy. So much so, they would avoid face-to-face interaction with any human and prefer texting instead, in other words, they will grow up to be adults with very poor interpersonal skills.
Parents who remove all forms of tech from their kids lives and some would relent and allow minimal tech exposure. Once they become old enough to go online, they would get on the net with full vengeance, trying to catch up with what they have missed all along. They will struggle to find a balance.
Parents who carefully curate tech for their children along with the teachers involvement. Strict tech time-outs (mon-friday maybe) and outdoor play or sports will be encouraged (weekends). Reading physical books, roadtrips, camping, develop hobbies, etc., parents need to get creative. They will need to “mentor, monitor, moderate.” They will strive to mold responsible digital citizens out of their children. Very physically and mentally demanding and time-consuming effort. With the introduction of tech, child-rearing has become extremely challenging for the current crop of parents.
@Shiv I see more gray areas as I’m sure you may too because tech use is so personal. My husband had to check email on his phone for work a lot so my daughter is actually offended with tech use around her. There is a section of lids out there that are not so keen on phone use because their parents are on devices a lot- even if it’s for a “good reason” kids don’t understand. A definite competition for attention for a parent’s attention so many preteens now really resent technology- the iPhone emerged and people’s use grew while they were little so they still remember the good ole days when Mom and Dad were present.
@Shiv. Yes it’s almodt like we should call it “kids well-being”. Because modern life has many health risks- and technology is one section of this. For years video games and TV have drawn kids away from environments that support development. We need to be extra careful in thinking kids learning technology can take the place of what they will never get a chance learn again. In my view kids will miss developmental milestones in front of a screen- kids can always learn technology later- technologies become obsolete- so in a way we are teaching our kids to depend on something outside of themselves by denying them that time sensitive opportunity to move through all the milestones.
We need to care for our kids in a holistic way- and as we all know kids are so different. Some kids are not phased by time displacement of technology- but many are affected more seriously.
@healthyswimmer…that word “holistic” is the answer. Raising a child in a holistic manner is so crucial, but we need the participation of all stakeholders, don’t you think? If we are to believe that only the parents (or kids of addicted parents) can do this alone, we are sorely mistaken. At least the adults know life before tech and can seek help, but with kids who take to tech at a young age, it is going to be a whole different ball game. The parents can strictly implement tech-rules in the house, but ultimately they have to let go of their teen into a tech-riddled world. As opposed to TV, with mobile tech (which is replacing just about everything), now kids don’t play anymore even during school recess, instead they are bent over staring at screens. School cellphone ban is such a welcome move. Kids hold pencils like how cavemen held sticks, because small children, I believe, are only used to swiping on screens, according to recent research. Don’t you think this is what they term as singularity as there is no going back to traditional ways, and tech is here to stay…also how can we change the behaviour of most of these tech-saavy young people? Sitting is the new smoking these days…sedentary behaviour leads to so many health issues. I think Generation Z as parents will be better equipped to handle their offspring than the Generation X and millennial parents, who are caught unaware of the impact of digital tech on kids.
It takes a village to raise a child and all stakeholders must take part in implementing healthy use of technology rather than the parents alone, but the starting point will always be parents or the caretakers of the child.
The ones who are affected more seriously need help, and to seek help, people will have to understand the magnitude of the problem. It is urgent to create widespread awareness. I am so glad we are taking about it.
You are so right on here- I mean I see ed tech as a flippant decision well intended to fix deep seeded issues in education- of not enough resources in the first place. So we need to be supportive of the schools but not full tech immersion or inappropriate tech use if we believe this isn’t right.
Our bodies will not tolerate swiping and typing a 2D world forever. Our tendons will hit the wall or the screen so to speak. I’ve seen this already…
Every family should have a family media plan and should be talking about the appropriate uses of technology begin at a very young age. We have listened to podcasts about the effects of screens with our kids and we talk about screen use when we see others using screens inappropriately (like in a restaurant).
I also believe you should start slow with technology. For instances, maybe give your child access to FaceTime or texting and monitoring how they are using it. Talk about what works and what does and how texts don’t convey tone of voice or body language.
As David Finkelhor pointed out in his talk on Juvenoia, “We can educate children and families about the dangers that surely exist in the Internet world, without having to exaggerate the nature of the danger and the degree to which the Internet itself is a risk amplifying environment.” And as ConnectSafely points out in our free online booklet, The Parent & Educator Guide to Media Literacy & Fake News, it’s time for all of us to learn to recognize fact from fiction not only by increasing our media literacy but also our emotional literacy. There are risks in this world, including the risk of child and teen suicide and risks associated with the inappropriate use of technology. But every day hundreds of millions of children and teens pick up their smartphones or access websites without horrible consequences. One tragedy is, of course, one tragedy too many, but panic, fake stories and exaggeration do nothing to make our children safer but instead have been found to increase risk.
@patm. I don’t understand- does this make this source not credible? Maybe maybe not…
The most important thing we must realize about any information we acquire about internet safety is that we discern for ourselves what is safe and what isn’t- to teach our kids to use their minds. It’s just like any news out there, we can’t protect ourselves or anyone really…
Discernment of information needs to happen without herd mentality. We will think for ourselves what is “real”, and not discredit other sources because some other articles were fake.
Bottom line people have a right to know any possible harms, so they can make their own choice.
I think the source, Connect Safely, is a reliable one. The author of the article is merely saying, in different words, what you’ve said: that restraint, caution, and good judgement are needed and that children don’t benefit when adults act on the basis of incomplete or misleading information.
Our local paper, the Star-Advertiser, had a front-page article on bullying, including the electronic form. Here is a graphic that was published with the article. Cyberbullying might be a topic we want to take up in our Tech Wise campaign.
My sister and I are “digital natives”. One thing my parents did that really helped us remove ourselves from our video games and devices was remind us that there is a world outside of the Internet.
My mom and dad would take us on weekly trips to the library (where phones were not allowed) and have us leave with at least one book we had to finish before it was time to return our books again. We were sort of forced to put our electronics away in order to reach our weekly goal (which we would get some kind of reward for, like stickers). This helped us disconnect from our electronics as we got older and reminded us that there are other ways to be engaged. They took us of hiking and nature trips to a similar end.
Another interesting thing they did was always talk to us about what social media sites we were using and question their necessity. They also explained to us at a young age what happens to our data when we provide it to websites like Instagram and Snap chat. This also helped us realize that these sites were not integral to our lives. Having active conversation about media and technology was critical in my current awareness.
@sidnya here is a list of resources to check out if you haven’t already: (common sense media is constantly updating so check back frequently to see what’s happening- many of these sites have newsletters they will email you with breaking news regarding laws too- and they really don’t sell your email address too!). https://www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action