TECH: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

The ten­ta­cles of tech­nol­ogy have ex­tended deep into our lives, and par­ents are pan­ick­ing. But ex­perts say that par­ents should sim­ply fol­low their in­stincts and be mind­ful of their own de­vice use

Southeast Asia Globe - - Education Special -

Par­ents should severely limit the amount of time chil­dren spend us­ing tech­nol­ogy, as their time would be bet­ter spent learn­ing how to de­velop last­ing re­la­tion­ships, says re­port one. But chil­dren should spend enough time in the glow of LED screens to get com­fort­able with a phe­nom­e­non that is likely to play an in­creas­ingly sig­nif­i­cant role in their lives to come, says re­port two.

These are the two main ar­gu­ments that have been re­hashed and re­pub­lished in var­i­ous ar­ti­cles over the past few years, leav­ing par­ents scratch­ing their heads try­ing to fig­ure out: how much tech­nol­ogy is too much for my kids?

But that is the wrong ques­tion to ask, ac­cord­ing to Scott Stein­berg, co-au­thor of The Mod­ern Par­ent’s Guide to Face­book

and So­cial Net­works. In Stein­berg's eyes, too many par­ents aban­don their parental in­stincts when try­ing to de­ter­mine how best to in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy into their chil­dren's lives.

“A lot of what we're teach­ing about par­ent­ing around tech­nol­ogy is just ba­sic par­ent­ing,” he told the New York

Times. “It comes down to the golden rule: are they treat­ing oth­ers in a re­spect­ful and em­pa­thetic man­ner?”

Sim­ple house­hold rules, such as no phones at the din­ner ta­ble or no screens for an hour be­fore bed­time, go a long way to­wards en­sur­ing chil­dren re­main grounded in re­al­ity and de­velop the in­ter­per­sonal skills nec­es­sary to func­tion in it, adds Stein­berg.

But par­ents must act as role mod­els and prac­tice what they preach for such rules to be ef­fec­tive. A slew of stud­ies have shown that par­ents are of­ten more ad­dicted to their phones and com­put­ers than their chil­dren, dis­rupt­ing fam­ily life and neg­a­tively im­pact­ing their chil­dren's de­vel­op­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to a small study con­ducted ear­lier this year by Bran­don McDaniel, a fam­ily and con­sumer sciences as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Illi­nois, par­ents' ad­dic­tion to tech­nol­ogy was lead­ing to kids act­ing out, bot­tling up feel­ings, ex­hibit­ing ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour or reg­u­larly cry­ing.

The study added weight to sim­i­lar re­search pub­lished last year in the jour­nal Cur­rent Bi­ol­ogy, which re­vealed that par­ents who looked at their phones or got oth­er­wise dis­tracted while play­ing with their chil­dren were more likely to raise young­sters with short at­ten­tion spans, widely re­garded as a strong in­di­ca­tor for later suc­cess in ar­eas such as lan­guage ac­qui­si­tion and prob­lem solv­ing.

McDaniel told the Chicago Tribune in May that par­ents should en­gage in a pe­riod of self-re­flec­tion in or­der to pre­vent tech­nol­ogy from neg­a­tively af­fect­ing their fam­i­lies' lives.

“We need to crit­i­cally ex­am­ine our de­vice use,” he said. “Let's be mind­ful of how phones can in­flu­ence us, so that we can be the master of our phones in­stead of our phones be­ing the master of us.”

A lot of what we’re teach­ing about par­ent­ing around tech­nol­ogy is just ba­sic par­ent­ing

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