The media and technology use of children and adolescents has risen dramatically in the last decade. The dilemma for parents today is how to be a good digital mentor and how to limit their child’s use when smart phones and other electronic devices have become increasingly popular.
While most experts agree that excessive use, especially watching violence on TV and playing violent video games, is harmful to children, many parents question how much technology use is too much and how they can model appropriate use of it.
Here are some facts to consider:
- Many children spent more time watching TV than with their parents.
- Children ages 8-10 spend 5.5 hours daily on electronic media use (includes TV, computers, and all electronic devices) on average.
- Children ages 11-14 spend 8 hours and 40 minutes daily on technology use on average.
- Adolescents, ages 15-18, spend almost 8 hours daily on electronic media use.
- The numbers for all of these age categories is higher if you consider media exposure.
- Children who play violent video games are more likely to be aggressive and to engage in delinquent acts.
- The more time children spend watching TV, the lower their school achievement. This is especially true for reading scores since children who spend excessive time on electronic media and/or technology tend to view books as boring.
- Excessive media and technology use also interferes with completing homework. Overall, it distracts kids and interferes with their time doing homework and reading at home.
- Another huge concern in the 21st century is peer bullying and harassment (Cyber Bullying). One study found that Cyber aggression is related to loneliness and low self-esteem.
- A special concern has arisen about children’s and adolescent’s access to information on the internet because it is unregulated. They can gain access to adult sexual material, how to make bombs, violence, and other material that is harmful to themselves and others.
- Some TV watching that is educational can enhance creativity and achievement.
- The use of computers for educational purposes can enhance achievement as long as it is monitored by parents and other adults and time limited.
Ways parents can be digital mentors:
- Monitor your own phone use and keep your smart phone away from your children.
- Spend quality time with your children daily.
- Have a tech talk with your child which includes frequent, calm discussions about technology use.
- Schedule a non- technology day once a week to encourage healthy activities.
- Expose your child to alternatives to technology such as time outside, exercise, reading, playing cards and games, and participating in cultural and recreational activities.
- Be sure to ask your child to turn off screens at least one hour before bed time. Check on them and make it a policy to offer them music, books they might enjoy, and other calming activities before bed.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry