January 2, 2012

As I sat and watched my children and nephews open their presents on Christmas morning, I enjoyed the beauty of the day, giving and our lives in America. We are so blessed to live in a country with the freedoms that we have. We can celebrate Christ's birth, Hanukkah, Ramadan and be at peace with each other.

I also thought about the difficult problems technology has brought to parenting. In the not so distant past we had to worry about toy guns, Barbie and JARTS. Fast forward to 2011 and we have ipods, computers (our children are so savvy with all devices), phones, etc...

All of these machines are great, but they bring a few problems to the table that need to be addressed.

1) Ear buds and other headphones are concentrating sound directly to the ears and we are seeing increased hearing loss in young adults.

2) Computers and touchscreen devices are being used by our kids to view very graphic and violent games.

3) Kids are checking out far too often with tunes or texting or movies or youtube or whatever.

4) Radiation risks still concern me.

5) Nature deprivation is a consequence of too much attractive technological stimulation indoors.

Remedy - the solution is to teach appropriate use. Not allowing your children to have devices will only foster a seeking out behavior and then a sneaky tactic which allows you no input into the usage behavior when at friends houses.

For example - My wife and I have preset rules on time usage and the content to be viewed. Breaking these rules will ban usage for a lengthy time. This has worked well for us. Get to know the parent controls on any device. Set the parental guidance rules on your home computers and other devices.

Most devices have a lockable volume control on them. I think that when I speak in a normal voice my son should be able to hear me if he has headphones on. If not, the volume is too high.

Going out to restaurants or other family outings = devices left at home. Family time is exactly that! I think that from Sunday night until Friday night is a screen free time. Homework, outdoor play, family time is all that they need to grow into useful citizens.

My take home point today: Be an active part of your children's lives and teach them self control regarding technology.

Happy New Year,

Dr. Magryta