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Friday, March 13, 2015

Young Children and Technology from Devorah Heitner, part 2

More follow-up from Devorah Heitner's webinar Strategies for Using Digital Technologies at Home from the Erikson Institute.  I'm taking a few of her points and making individual blog posts out of them, but I highly recommend checking out the  recording.

Family Culture around technology:

  • She recommends that families pay attention to how they use media and technology on a weekend day and a weekday. 
    • Do children get up earlier than parents?  If so, are how are they interacting with media independently?
    • What about mealtimes?  Every family is different--be careful not to shame families who do not have dinner together regularly.  
  • How do families monitor content for different age/sensitivity levels of children (sometimes it is not always the youngest child who is most sensitive to violence, for instance).  How do siblings take care of each other in this regard?
  • What about caregivers in the home?  Do parents talk with babysitters, nannies, or family members coming into their home about the media use that they would like for their children?
  • Being aware of what adults are modeling is important.  In her work with middle school students, she said that kids say that it can be hard to get through the cloud of technology to get their parents' attention.  You don't have to completely give up using technology, but be conscious about it, make a plan with your child for when and how.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Young Children and Technology at Home

Child with tablet, courtesy of The Commons Getty Collection
I just attended an outstanding webinar from The Erikson Institute, Strategies for Using Digital Technologies at Home.  It was presented by Devorah Heitner, founder of Raising Digital Natives.   I can't recommend listening to the recording enough!  If you don't have time for that, take a quick listen to her TEDx Talk (only 13 minutes), which deals with older kids, empathy, and technology.  Here are the resources and links she referenced in the webinar.

The webinar covered many important points, and I am going to try to delve into a few of them one at a time, so as not to overwhelm you with tons of stuff all at once.  The one I want to mention today is:

Mixed Messages.  Parents and caregivers get all sorts of mixed messages about media (and about parenting in general).  Because parenting can be one of the most vulnerable tasks any of us can undertake, it is especially hard to navigate these dire warnings without feeling guilty and worried.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for anyone under the age of two, and very limited screen time for preschoolers.  There are others who say that if your child doesn't have access to technology at a young age, they will fall behind in skills and development.  And still others that are trying to market videos that will help teach our babies to read or be smart despite mounting evidence that these kinds of materials don't work.

Because there are so many confusing mixed-messages, and because it is very easy for parents to feel judged, castigated, or guilty about these things, it can be hard to just have an honest conversation about it all.  How can we help parents feel comfortable and welcome, so that they can ask questions and talk about their own family's use of media and technology without feeling worried we'll tell them they are doing it wrong?