Collaborative Family Digital Activities For Summer 2017

Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.

So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together —  to consider for summer 2017.

Twelve Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

When Did We Stop Thinking of Bedrooms as Places to Sleep?

bedroom deviceShould we make kids’ bedrooms better for sleeping?

I’ve just finished reading an October 2016 editorial in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, Problems Associated With Use of Mobile Devices in the Sleep Environment — Streaming Instead of Dreaming. The short piece describes the problems that digital devices, especially those that are mobile and easy to glance at or grab in the middle of the night, reflects on research published in the same issue of the journal. Unfortunately neither article is freely available; however, the links I’ve added offer a summary describing how the research was conducted and highlighting the findings.

The JAMA Pediatrics research article explains how the study asked the question, “Is there an association between screen-based media device access or use in the sleep environment and sleep quantity and quality?” Researchers conducted a meta-analysis (examining the results of many studies and combining the results) by searching through 20 previous studies, involving more than 125,000 children, that examined sleep patterns of children between 6 and 19 years old.                       Continue reading

iPad Crazed Kids? OK, but Are They Also Learning How to Play With Others?

I’ve just read a November 28, 2011 Bloomberg article, iPad Crazed Toddlers Spur Holiday Sales. OK, the title is a bit overly dramatic, but it’s an interesting read, describing the demand for tablets of all kinds and kids’ motivation to use them.

Seriously, though, the tone of the article makes me worry a bit. As a confirmed techie, gadget lover, educational technology specialist, teacher, and parent, I know that children also need lots of outside play time and plenty of experiences working/playing with others. We don’t know what the jobs will be in 15 years when these kids are looking for employment, but we do know that their superior technology skills will matter little if they don’t have great people skills — understanding how to share, take turns, and work collaboratively.

The article reminds parents about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations about no screen time (or very little of it) for children under two years of age. And please — this is a plea from me — avoid, as much as possible, using these digital devices as electronic pacifiers, the term used in the article by Victoria Nash of the Oxford Internet Institute (England).

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The Television Broke Down and Six Years Later We Replaced It

Click to check out these American Academy of Pediatrics resources.

Read No TV for Children Under 2 Doctors’ Group Urges, in the October 18, 2011 New York Times. This isn’t a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), just a reminder of how seriously they believe in their media literacy recommendations.

I don’t mention this often, but 30 years ago when our television broke, we had a new baby and not enough money, so we decided to put off the purchase of a new TV. The delay went on for six years until our daughter was seven years old. Originally we did not make a decision out of any deep philosophical principles — and back then there was a lot less research about the effect of TV-watching on young children — we simply did not have money that we wanted to spend on a new set just then (or we had other things we wanted to purchase — I really don’t remember). However, gradually we forgot our plans to purchase a new television because we liked what happened in our family.

We read more, we listened to music more, we ate less junk food, and during the times we were at home, we played lots of games and went to the park almost every day after we returned from work. By age 2-and-a-half our daughter could beat both of us at any memory game we put out on the table. We also read aloud, all the time. In fact, we read so much that sometimes we needed to go to the public library twice a week. Listening to the radio, sometimes NPR and at other times classical or oldies was a regular activity, and we went to movies.

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9 Family Digital Citizenship Tips: Back-to-School Reading #5

The beginning of a school year is a good time for families to set limits, explain rules, and in general, clarify expectations about technology use. Getting started in the fall, when everyone is off to a new grade and a fresh beginning, encourages healthy tech habits.

Depending on the age of your children, you may want to accomplish some or even all of the tasks on this list, encouraging everyone to think responsibly and become committed digital citizens.

Nine Back-to-School Technology Tasks

1. Place computers in central, well-traveled locations — away from bedrooms and private spaces.

2. Be sure adults, not children, are administrators on the computers and devices in your  home — including laptops and other digital devices.

3. Print and post rules and expectations next to each computer. Specify the times when you do not want your children using computers. Emphasize that your family rules are in effect when children go to a friend’s house. Share my digital citizenship poem that highlights issues to consider. Continue reading

4 Lessons for Parents in a Constantly Connected World

Every digital-age parent with a Blackberry or smartphone needs to read Four Lessons for Parents in a Constantly Connected World. This short article, by Mashable writer Soren Gordhamer, offers a few pointers for parents of digital kids. I’ve summarized each of the recommendations for below.

  • Learn about the games your child plays.
  • Put down digital gadgets and spend time with children (and not letting the gadgets interrupt the time).
  • Keep the gadgets our of the bedroom (for everyone).
  • Start sharing and collaborating on technology searches and projects (and resolve to learn more).

Two recent MediaTechParenting posts relate to this Mashable article.