Love It or Hate It: Technology and Our Kids, Part 1
I have a love-hate relationship with technology, especially when it comes to my kids.
One way I have found to monitor what my children are playing and what safeguards I can put in place is a website called Common Sense Media. This site is an excellent resource. You type in the app, movie, game, TV show and up pops a rating, based on Child Development Best Practices. This site also provides parent recommendations and different ratings on educational value or how much violence the media you chose has. Another great resource that is provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is their media plan. You can set up a media plan for your households utilizing the AAP guidelines.
Here is what I do love about technology. Technology allows us to learn like never before. Information is available at the click of a button. It allows our children to do things we never imagined doing when we were growing up, such as coding to create their own games or doing research for school at the click of a button. No more digging through the encyclopedias. You just type what you are looking for and up pops a plethora of information.
My son recently showed me a video that he put to music. He had to enter in different codes to make his character dance and for fireworks to go off at just the right time to the beat of the music. I would not know where to begin to do something like this, but here my 12-year-old was teaching me something new.
In addition it increases their ability to communicate in multifaceted ways. For young children there are apps that can help in learning their numbers or ABCs. Technology can be very useful as an interaction tool with your children or in a classroom. For example, Cosmic Kids Yoga or Go Noodle is a fun way to dance and do yoga with your kids.
What we can’t deny though is the harm that can come from too much media. For example, depression and anxiety are on the rise. Due to this increase there are many studies looking to see if there is a link between the rise in the use of technology and childhood depression/anxiety.
One recent study that looked at this exact topic was done by San Diego State University by Twenge and Campbell. They found that there is a link to heightened diagnosis of depression and anxiety in children as young as 2. They found that even after only one hour teens and children show less curiosity, self-control, emotional stability and are less likely to finish tasks. Adolescents who spent more than seven hours a day on a screen were twice as likely as those spending just one hour or less to have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
The AAP recommends that screen time should be limited: no media for children under 18 months; 1 hour or less for children 2-5; consistent limits for children 6 and older.
Whatever your family’s take on media is; just remember like anything in this world it is all about moderation. Do what works for your family. Just make sure to pay attention to what your children are watching or playing. This will allow you to educate them and keep them safe, both mentally and physically.
By Beth Lucht, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center