Check out a fascinating article, When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa’ Before Mama, in the November 27, 2017 Washington Post. Tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama describes how a young child responds to the Alexa voice assistant in his house, calling out her name before learning his mom’s. She also writes about the personal voice assistant universe and expert opinions.
I am not sure what to think and, yes, it is amusing.
Yet I keep wondering whether digital toys and devices, especially those that talk, tend to distract babies and toddlers as they go about learning words and begin to carry on a basic conversation. Babies are hard-wired to learn the language that their parents speak — the words, the pitch, the intonation — and it seems like inserting digital conversations into the equation could slow down the process, or at least not be helpful. Twenty-first Century life is becoming more complex for every age as we sail nonstop into an increasingly digital world.
With so much conversation about screen time for kids of all ages, it’s also useful to think and talk about adults’ screen time. Adults model, but not always well, screen time habits for the young people in their families. When asked, most 21st Century children can share all sorts of stories about how much time their parents spend on their devices, even at inappropriate or inopportune times.
In his New York Magazine article, I Used to Be a Human Being, writer and contemporary thinker Andrew Sullivan contemplates the overwhelming “full immersion” that he and many adults experience with the online world.
As parents and educators, we quickly come to understand how stories help young people learn.
Unfortunately, when it comes to digital parenting and digital citizenship, we do not have many positive children’s stories — the kind you can sit down and read with a child. We know what we want children to learn as they grow up and use more and more digital devices in a connected world. We are also gradually coming to understand that citizenship and digital citizenship are one and the same.
We need lots more stories that illustrate the way digital life should be lived — stories that we can share with 21st Century children when they are young.
It’s Thanksgiving 2015 and time for my annual list celebrating what’s good about our digital world.
As a parent, teacher, and 21st Century learning advocate with a digital parenting focus, I spend lots of time suggesting ways that families, educators, and children, can strategize, enrich, and improve their digitally connected lives. And, of course, I am always encouraging people — kids and parents — to learn and understand enough about digital life to avoid potential problems.
This year I am especially grateful for a young new family member and for the digital tools that allow me to continually stay in touch. The ability to see, chat, laugh, watch reactions, and almost touch family members who live at a distance enriches life in countless ways.
Where a digital device is charged is a health issue for 21st Century children.
With so many different electronic devices in our lives, it’s easy to get distracted and use them for extended periods and inappropriate times. Concerns about overuse abound, but one of the most significant issues is the way that digital devices keep people, especially 21st Century preadolescents and teens, from getting enough good quality sleep.
To improve sleep habits in your house, consider purchasing or one or two digital gadget charging stations where family members can charge phones and other devices. Locate the charging stations away from the bedrooms.
I recently discovered, in a small way, just how a cell phone screen can disrupt sleep. I received a new Solitaire game app and began playing two or three games on my iPhone just before bed several nights in a row. A few games grew into 20 or 30 minutes of play, and for three nights in a row, when I put down the phone, it took me a long time to settle down and get to sleep. The fourth night I did not play, and sleep came easily.
One of my favorite charging stations is the red box at the top right of this post, a nifty do-it-yourself craft project made from a filing box. Click on the image link and check it out at MakeZine.
Twenty-first century parenting demands are unending and sometimes difficult to solve, but introducing charging stations into a home is a simple and elegant solution that addresses sleep deprivation issues for everyone in the family.
Other than ensuring a child gets all of the recommended vaccinations, supervising good sleep is just about the best thing a parent can do for a child’s health.
A Few Resources on Sleep Deprivation and Digital Device Screens (repeated from the previous post)