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Overuse of Technology by Children & Youth

Current levels of technology use by children, youth and their parents, are costing children and youth their developmental milestones. Children are now showing signs of language delays, limited vocabulary and lack of ability to understand nuanced communications such as body language and established social cues.

Read the scientific evidence: Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Atler.

I believe it’s very telling that there exists exclusive tech-free private schools in the Silicon Valley in California where 95% of the students are children of technology titans. Steve Jobs (Founder and CEO of Apple Computer) once famously responded to a New York Times reporter’s question about how his children like the iPad. “I don’t know, we haven’t given them one.”  he replied, saying he realized how powerful a tool it was that that he was careful what he gave his children.

“The average 8 to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.”
Children, adolescents in the media 2013, the American Academy of Paediatrics cited from a Kaiser family foundation study in 2010. U.S.

Technology users must be honest and observant.

Yes, technology is pervasive and compelling—as it was designed to be. Most apps and games are built with addictive ingredients; elements of uncertainty with potential for reward, peer recognition or stranger approval. Yes, there is enormous potential for learning and communication on an exponential level however, device-based communication lacks many of the elements of our historical modes of communication; facial expressions and body language of the sender, receivers and audiences of the post, comment or in-game trash-talk.

Parents that provide good online rules, structure and boundaries often face an uphill battle and are to be celebrated. Good boundaries can include reduction or elimination of technology use in vehicles, at mealtimes and for one hour before bedtime.

With summer approaching, parents will face increased challenges around how to limit their children and youth’s technology time. A new app I’m trying out is called Moment* which tracks the hours per day you use your phone, the apps you use the most and how many time a day you pick up your phone. Installed on a family’s devices, this would be a great discussion-starter for parents and children to learn more about the benefits of limited screen time this summer.

If you’d like to hear more about positive parenting practices, book a presentation for your parent group, be it a school Parent Advisory Committee or a private group of friends who all want to make sure that they are informed about how to keep their children safe. We have provided many in-home presentations to groups of parents and children together. We are, of course, also happy to book a school-based presentation for the upcoming 2017/2018 school year. We will be offering a 10% discount for 2017/2018 presentation booked before July 7, 2017.

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We will have some exciting new material coming out this fall so stay in touch!

Stay SafeOnline!

Merlyn Horton

*I received no sponsorship to mention this app.

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