What Parents Really Need To Know About Technology and Children Today: Teleclass Re-cap
In this teleclass, facilitated by Dr. Kate Roberts and generously sponsored by UrbanSitter, we discussed how technology affects our children today and how we as parents can set a tone that’s bigger than our culture.
For those of you who missed it, you can hear the taped teleclass here.
Dr. Kate answered some very important questions during the teleclass. The following are some highlights:
How can parents responsibly introduce technology?
Parents need to view technology as an additional entertainment device and at times a teaching tool for children. Ideally when kids begin to watch TV it should be within the context of watching with their parents and the television should be used as an opportunity to teach children visuals, language, sounds, music and expose them to different opportunities to learn through interaction- for example Dora the Explorer and Blues Clues. Non-television technologies should be introduced later.
How do we model responsible use as a way of life?
For younger children who have no understanding of tech and it’s significance as a way of life, it’s imperative that parents minimize its impact on the home front. Role modeling is the biggest way to do that.The idea of screen and tech free times and zones is one way to model responsible use of technology. It’s important to teach children that being connected to tech and using technology is not the same as life experience and it’s not the same as experiencing things in real life.
How important is it to set a tone of being unplugged?
Being unplugged is huge for children of any age. For younger children it’s important because they want what their parents have-keys, glasses, and devices –whatever the parent has, the kids wants. Kids also don’t want to compete for attention and they will get upset if tech is occupying parent or sitter. They will learn to act out to get attention. Tech is addictive, being unplugged stops the cycle.
Does earlier introduction mean more use down the road?
Earlier does mean more later because of the impact of early learning has on later development. From what I’ve seen in my practice, I believe earlier use means more use and reliance on technology down the road. Earlier makes it easier for tech to become a way of life. All children will be introduced to technology in school in kindergarten and that’s early enough.
What, if anything, do children miss if they don’t use technology before age 6
There is speculation that children who aren’t using technology as they are learning to speak will not be as facile with it as those who learned tech while they learned to talk. However, the scary part is that we do not know how early tech exposure interacts with a child’s young brain. We do know that the more time spent on tech, the more they miss other important learning- for example social learning.
How are computers, tablets, phones different/the same as TV?
Computers, tablets and phones are different from TV and not that much more interactive. Television shows like Dora the explorer and Blues Clues were precursors to the interactive technology today. And they were more popular with children because they get them involved. Any Internet or gaming with computers and tablets and phones involves more connection to people and more interaction and those two things can be highly addictive.TV is also addictive but more in a passive way.
How do we as parents stay ahead of the technology crazed culture?
Parents stay ahead of the tech craze culture by having firm boundaries around technology and by putting technology in its proper place. Technology has its place it has its usefulness it has its role but it’s not a substitute for other more important things like coping skills and communication and interaction.
How many hours a day should children be allowed to use technology?
Variables that are important in this question are age and reasoning capacity. Younger children should have no access to non-TV technology until they are 5 years old and then, at that point, they could use some educational tools such as Leapster and will also be exposed to computers in kindergarten. For non-TV technology technological devices 1 to 2 hours a day is the recommended amount of time by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Should parents play video games with their children?
Parents should not game with their children. Other activities will be difficult and viewed as ‘less than’ in comparison, so avoid using tech as a way of connecting with kids.
How does a parent ‘change the rules’ if there are already set precedents in place regarding tech use at home?
It’s not easy to re-establish household tech rules and routines for families where precedents are set with unlimited tech use. However, if parents are consistent and follow through with what they think is important, children will follow their lead. I have yet to work with the family who has gone from many hours of tech down to one or less where everybody in the family has not benefited. All people, regardless of their age, would prefer human connection to tech connection.
Dr. Kate Roberts is a child psychologist and parenting coach with over 25 years of
experience. Based in Hamilton and Salem, she is a well-known expert in
the field of parenting and child psychology, and has published a number
of articles in professional journals and writes a bi-weekly parenting
column in the Salem News; Dr. Kate’s Parent Rap. Dr. Kate’s unique
coaching practice “helps parents, help their children”. Her New Reality
Parenting, is a coaching model that offers practical, targeted
strategies that guide parents through the unexpected glitches of today’s
ultra crazed, fast paced everyday life. Her focused solutions take the
stress out of overscheduled and bring a smoothness to even the bumpiest
transitions. Contact her via email at [email protected] or phone 978-884-1213. Visit www.drkateroberts.com, Facebook or Twitter.