If you look up the definition of moderation in Webster’s Dictionary, the first one given is as follows:
1a : avoiding extremes of behavior or expression : observing reasonable limits <a moderate drinker>
The example given, “a moderate drinker,” may seem somewhat unrelated to the topic of technology, however, it’s actually more relevant than most realize. But we’ll come back to that later. AND to avoid extremes of any behavior, you must first be educated in that which causes the desire to go to extremes in the first place. At the risk of the following statistics being seen as scare tactics, this information is merely meant to give you the power to make informed decisions.
- 50% all teens say they feel addicted to their mobile devices. (Washington Post, May 2016)
- The average age for a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years (https://techcrunch.com, May 2016)
- Tablets have surged from 26% to 55% usage as kids’ device of choice during car rides. Smartphones trail at 45% (up from 39% in 2012). (https://techcrunch.com, May 2016)
- 64% of kids have access to the Internet via their own laptop or tablet, compared to just 42% in 2012 (https://techcrunch.com, May 2016)
- 39% of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years. 11% got a social media account when they were younger than 10. (https://techcrunch.com, May 2016)
The following ad created by Nature Valley was meant to show the extreme differences between 3 generations of families and their means for entertainment amidst the playful phase of life we call “childhood.”
Dr. Delaney Ruston of Stanford University School of Medicine and a well known documentary filmmaker, says, “studies that look at MRI scans of the brain of kids who play a lot of video games, 20 hours or more of video games a week. And when they compare them to people who are addicted to, say, drugs or alcohol, their brains scans are similar.”
That leads us back to the example in Webster’s Dictionary “moderate drinker.” We certainly don’t intend to create heavy “drinkers” of our children and their digital devices, however, it’s easy to do if we continue to view technology as toys, not tools.
Yes, all these facts should scare you a little. Fear is a great motivator sometimes. But keeping the following in mind will give you the power to help your children avoid those extreme behaviors and observe reasonable limits when it comes to using their devices as more of a tool NOT a toy.
- Set an example, your children are watching you
- Be the parent, set limits & keep technology public in the house
- Share the facts with them to help them understand why
- Find more games and apps to enhance their education
- Minimize mindless games and apps that limit creativity
- Talk about their device as a tool not a toy, even to them
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