January 13, 2020
Recently a report from the Americn Academy of Pediatrics confirmed what most parents already know: When not controlled, the use of electronic devices by kids is associated with all kinds of problems, including adverse impacts on sleep, learning and attention, obesity, and depression. In addition, unfettered use of digital and social media raises risks of exposure to “inaccurate, inappropriate, or unsafe content and contacts, and compromised privacy and confidentiality.”
At the same time, the AAP recognized the potential benefits digital access provides such as opportunities for early learning, exposure to new ideas and knowledge, increased social contact and support, and access to health promotion messages and information.
What’s a Parent to Do?
Given the pros and cons, the AAP suggests that parents develop and Family Media Plan that limits the use of digital devices. With that in mind, Bruce Feller, author of The Secrets of a Happy Family, set about learning what elements of a Family Media Plan look like in the real world. The results are published in The New York Times article, When Tech Is a Problem Child. Below are a few highlights from his findings:
FIRST PHONES: The vast majority of parents gave their children their first phones in sixth or seventh grade, with a few holding out until high school. But those devices aren’t always cutting edge. Parents opted for “dumb phones,” “flip phones,” or “hand-me-down phones” from siblings or grown-ups. They also turn off features, including Wi-Fi, Siri, even internet access.
BEDTIME: An overwhelming majority ban phones from bedrooms at bedtime. “Tech needs a bedtime, too, in our house, 30 mins before lights out.” “No technology one hour before bedtime.” “At 9 p.m. she brings her phone downstairs, where it stays until 7 a.m.” “Devices are supposed to be parked outside the kids’ bedrooms before they turn in for the night.”
SOCIAL MEDIA: Many parents restrict first-time phone users to a single social media platform. “Only Snapchat; no Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.” “Only Instagram, and I check it occasionally.” “One platform at a time.”
Regardless of the sites, most parents insist on knowing passwords and logins.
Feller found that parents were united in their complaint that technology use interfers with family time. Their suggestions include “No devices for all meal” and “No earbuds in the car.” Parents also proposed doing activities together that forestall the technology use such as cooking, hiking, playing family games, etc. Finally, some opted for public humiliation: “If a device is picked up during family time, we get to open texts, and my husband and I do dramatic text reading.”
What’s In Your Family Media Plan?
Use the comment feature below to let us know what works in your family. We need all the help we can get!