Posted in 21st Century life, American Academy of Pediatrics, defining screen time, parents and technology, screen time, young children

So How Do You Count Screen Time?

How do you count screen time? Screens are so much a part of our lives, and in just a few moments we can check texts, read the newspaper, and map out a bike route. Our kids see this.

Remote Video Grandchildren Skype Grandparents
Facetiming! A public domain image at Dreamstims.com

It’s been fascinating to watch my grandson gradually become interested in light and then screens over these past four years. Early on he’d glance at any area that was lit up — a window, a lamp, a toy — and eventually I’d see him study, with rapt concentration, a lit up screen or unusual light anywhere in the vicinity. When he was a bit over two, his parents got him a fake toy screen — not at all interesting — but real screens, the type we use in almost every part of our lives, grabbed his attention, and fairly soon he wanted to do things with those devices.

Now four, he thinks screens are a big deal. He’d love to play games, watch TV, or just get mom or dad’s iPad or mobile phone to play a game. However, although he lives in a home with multiple screens, his time is limited, and digital devices are rarely used as a baby sitter or diversion. Besides, he has books, lots of books.

Yet, if I take out my cell phone, or his mom gets out her iPad, he’s right there checking it out and ready to go. When I babysit, it is not uncommon for him to ask if he can watch TV. (Usually, my answer is not right now.)   Continue reading “So How Do You Count Screen Time?”

Posted in 21st Century parenting, American Academy of Pediatrics, digital parenting, early childhood, family life, parents and technology, print versus electronic books, reading, reading on electronic devices, reading with children, toddlers

Print Books: Better Than Digital for Toddlers!

img_0795Are print books better for young learners and especially toddlers? Ask almost anyone in early child development and they will likely say yes, print books are so much better in so many ways. Many educational technology specialists — people like me who love learning with technology — will say the same thing. You can also read this New York Times article by pediatrician, Perri Klass.

Dr. Klass writes about a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and published at the journal Pediatrics. They conducted their research with 37 parent-child pairs who read together in three formats — print, electronic, and electronic with extra bells and whistles such as sound effects. Readers were videotaped. Toddlers and parents verbalized but interacted and collaborated less with electronic books. Then the researchers studied the recordings and coded the verbalizations and behavior or the parents and children.                 Continue reading “Print Books: Better Than Digital for Toddlers!”

Posted in American Academy of Pediatrics, babies and technology, brain, parents and technology

Babies: The Real World or a Tablet Screen?

silo
The silo!

A baby carrier with an iPad holder?

Don’t babies need to be looking around and figuring out things about all the people and things around them? You know, mommy, daddy, toy, cat, dog, book, noise, quiet. I watched my daughter observing and responding to the differences in colors, light, contrasts, and people — real people — practically from the day she was born. Babies may not be able to talk or even move for a long time after birth, but they can watch real life —  and they work hard and learn a lot while they do all of that looking.

Seriously, do parents want a baby to stop figuring out and organizing the real world just to look at a screen — even for a short time?

Downstairs in my basement is an old-fashioned and wonderful Fisher-Price plastic barn and silo filled with people and animals. Two generations of babies and toddlers loved those toys, and now they’re waiting down there in a corner somewhere for the next child. The silo provided hours of interest for our daughter. Once she could sit up she started watching this bright red object. Inside were safe plastic animal toys for when she was learning to grab — but mostly she would knock the silo over or bang on it.

Continue reading “Babies: The Real World or a Tablet Screen?”

Posted in advertising, American Academy of Pediatrics, digital parenting, marketing to kids, media messages, parents and technology

The Media Is the Message for Our Children

Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the story.
Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the controversy and read the story.

In light of the extraordinary negative media messages about body image in children’s lives, ensuring the strength and confidence of preadolescents and teens is a continuing challenge for parents and teachers. So much of the advertising markets thinness, popularity, sexuality, and one type of attractiveness, so it can be difficult for adults to counteract the effect of the of this pressure on a child.

Sometimes the entire ethos of a company emphasizes values that we do not want children in our care to adopt.

A distressing article over at the Huffington Post, A Message to Abercrombie’s CEO from a Former Fat Girl by Sara Taney Humphreys, highlights how one company has made exclusion, intentionally or otherwise, a part of its mission. Humphreys’ article isn’t about something that happened recently, but rather a quote from a 2006 Salon article about the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. While the article is more than six years old, the comments are disturbing, especially given the number of children who like to shop at Abercrombie and the many others who struggle with body image. Below is a quote from the Salon article.

As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

You can also listen to this ABC Chicago television story (after an airlines advertisement), including interviews with teenagers — many of whom can fit into the Abercrombie clothes but choose not to buy them. The teens are demonstrating at one of the stores in Chicago.

You might also want to look over the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement on media and children.

Posted in American Academy of Pediatrics, and media, digital kids, parents and technology, when tragedies strike

What to Say to Kids After We Are Saturated With Horrific Images

MD Momma
Check out helpful links for parents are at the end of this column.

We are all still reeling from the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

For parents of digital kids, who with their children take all-the-time media access for granted, the greatest challenge is to figure out how to moderate what their youngsters see and hear in the days immediately following an event. It’s especially difficult because adults often want to be updated continuously by media resources.

Here’s a Boston Globe article with suggestions about how parents can help children feel safer and more secure after frightening events. Written by pediatrician Claire McCarthy for her MD Mama column, the piece also offers links to additional resources on parenting after scary, media-saturated events. Dr. McCarthy reminds parents that they can get their updates from smartphones and laptops rather than keeping a radio or television turned on.

shooting tips quote
This graphic links to the MGH article.

 Best Quote

        “…as parents, we don’t get the luxury of processing and dealing separately from our children.”

Massachusetts General Hospital, where many injured people were taken, has posted How to Talk to Kids Following the Boston Marathon Tragedy, including the excellent graphic on the left. 

You might also find it helpful to read blog posts, one that I wrote after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, Media Literate Disaster Discussions Balance Concern With Hope, and another, Talking to Children About the News.

Resources for parents and educators are also available at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website.

Posted in 21st Century parenting, acceptable use, American Academy of Pediatrics, digital devices and gadgets, digital kids, parent child conversations, parents and technology

9 Suggestions to Help Families Think About Digital Device Moderation

Designed using images from the Apple website.
Designed using images from the Apple website.

I love my iPhone and iPad, and I cannot do many things without them. For children under 13, however, use time should be carefully monitored by each family. Kids today are playing independently with powerful devices, and they — the devices and the children — are not intended to interact in isolation and for long periods without adult supervision.

An article that provides food for thought, Your Phone Versus Your Heart, appeared in the March 23, 2013 New York Times. Also, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics media resources — the pediatricians are making recommendations because they know what they are talking about.

Just today I asked a group of device-savvy fifth graders, most around age 10, if they know anything about SnapChat, the app that deletes pictures in one to ten seconds (leaving plenty of time for a recipient with poor judgment to take a screenshot and save the photo). Just about every hand went up. During a lesson a few months ago I asked them how many of them know how to make a screenshot — and they can all do it in a lot less than ten seconds. Read my SnapChat review here.

A Few Social Media Supervision Suggestions            Continue reading “9 Suggestions to Help Families Think About Digital Device Moderation”

Posted in advertising, American Academy of Pediatrics, digital kids, digital world conversations, media diet, media literacy, screen time

Advertising With Kids as Targets

For several months I’ve been carrying around a New York Times article, How Advertising Targets Our Children, from the February 11, 2013 edition. Written by pediatrician Perri Klass the Well Blog post points out that recently published research links, even more strongly, the exposure of alcohol advertising to a child’s movement toward unhealthy behaviors.

Health Children Media Ed
Check out the Media Resources at HealthyChildren.org.

Dr. Klass writes about Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems (abstract), a Pediatrics article describing new research that finds a stronger association between unhealthy behaviors and the amount of advertising in the lives of children and adolescents. The researchers followed nearly 4,000 children in grades seven through ten.

Read the full text of the Pediatrics article.

In her article Klass quotes the researchers, experts from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy, and pediatrics professors from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University who have studied the links between childhood obesity and screen time.

Continue reading “Advertising With Kids as Targets”