Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kids and Tech: How Much is Too Much According to Experts

Children and technology, how much is too much? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1-2 hours per day of screen-time. Human connection, eye contact and dialogue are still key for children's development.
Here is some great advice from experts, published by Mashable, on limiting kids' exposure to the screen:

1. Get the TV out of the children’s bedrooms: Kaiser studies estimate that 30% of children age 0-3 and71% of children age 8-18 have a television in their bedroom. Both Rosen and Rowan advise removing brain-drain technology from private spaces. That way, parents can both monitor the type of content kids are absorbing and limit their usage appropriately.
2. Talk about it: Engage in “co-viewing,” a practice Rosen defines as talking about media while both parent and child experience it together. He suggests playing video games with kids, and checking out their social networks (although he’s opposed to parents friending their children on Facebook, in most instances).

3. Evaluate appropriate tech by age: Rosen says that infants respond best to touchscreen technology that will foster their tactile/kinesthetic learning style. School age and young preteens have been shown to develop hand-eye coordination and decision-making skills through video games — ideally, those that have been properly researched, and coupled other imaginative play. For older preteens, mobile phone use fosters communication practice. Finally, despite studies that social networking decreases empathy in teens, Rosen has seen that platforms like Facebook actually aid communication and interaction among teens. “Virtually, you’re doing it behind the screen and you feel safe,” he says. “You have a free, anonymous feeling.”

4. Institute “tech breaks”: The breaks, according to Rosen, can be used at home, in the classroom and everywhere in between. During class or family dinners, have kids put their mobile devices face down. If they succeed in not touching the device for 15 minutes, allow them a 1-2 minute “tech break,” during which they can text, check email or log in to social media.

5. Set aside “sacred time”: Rowan advocates following the “one hour per day, one day per week, one week per year” plan, in which both kids and their parents alike completely unplug. Rowan warns it will be challenging at first: “It’s scary for some families. They don’t know how to talk to each other anymore. They don’t know what to say.”
6. Encourage “healthy” technology: For Rowan, devices like the iPod don’t inhibit social behavior as dramatically as other forms of media, like “brain-draining” video games or television. Rosen doesn’t believe it’s quite as simple anymore to limit certain types of technology — mainly because the lines are now blurred. We’ve integrated television into smartphones, and books into digital readers. He advises narrowing it down by app, and only approving ones based on solid research.
7. Trust your kids: Although parents shouldn’t give kids free reign of their social media presences, allow them to “clean up” their profile pages before you take a peek. Rosen suggests giving kids a 24-hour warning beforehand. From then on, after the initial look, parents have the right to drop by and view their kid’s page spontaneously.
Source: Mashable

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