Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
As a professional and a parent, I’ve had a chance to observe over the last year or so the impact of “new” technologies – like texting, social media, and Skype – on kids’ social behavior. And, a bit to my surprise, I don’t see it having either a definitive positive or negative effect – rather there are just some upsides, and some downsides. My focus is particularly on the tween years.
First, the upsides. Some of the tools (Skype for one) seems to promote more cohesive group interaction, especially amongst school friends who don’t live near each other. It’s certainly it’s own thing, but from what I see it’s a pretty positive thing, especially because it seems to be more inclusive than what you might see in terms of face to face interaction (more kids and broader networks seem to be formed or at least tolerated). I’d go so far as to say it promotes a certain type of social cohesion. For the most part, I think texting also provides a certain connectivity that is proactive. And I’m finding that there is an openness about all this – almost like a chain reaction of disclosure from one kid to another via texting. And from my vantage point, a lot of what goes on is just positive, age-appropriate goofing around and having fun.
Now, there are of course some downsides for some kids. Use can be excessive. Electronics need to be shut off when it’s time to study. When there are social issues happening (“drama”), the texting can be overwhelming. All that said, I’m not seeing anything happening though that doesn’t happen in face to face interaction. Perhaps the biggest thing is reacting in heated moments which wouldn’t have been possible in prior years (outside of making a phone call). I’m sure there are more caustic and undermining things that go on for some kids, and we’ve all heard about cyberbullying. But overall, I think these kinds of things are the exception, rather than the rule.
So while there are nuances to how these technologies alter kids’ social behavioral repertoire, the big picture for me is that they are just new tools for kids to be kids like they have always been.
Kids via Shutterstock.com
Categories: Behavior, Health, Must Read, Parenting, Red-Hot Parenting | Tags: Cyberbulling, Health, kids and technology, Kids Health, Skype, social media, Texting
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
As screen time increases for both parents and kids, we often talk about how to reduce it. But is this focus misplaced and unrealistic in today’s society? Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews offers her perspective on how the quality of screen time may be a more forward looking way of approaching the issue.
The Louvre Museum in Paris recently unveiled Nintendo hand held consoles as their interactive device of choice for visitors to navigate the museum and learn more about selected works of art. While the innovation is fantastic and it delivers substantive nuggets of information to the museum goer, it also partially transforms what was previously an interactive experience with the art and other visitors into an interactive experience between man and machine. In support of the device however, I would argue that providing easier access to better information results in an enlightened individual and altogether, more productive time spent under Pei’s pyramid.
When I was growing up, the popular trend in helicopter parenting was to limit children’s exposure to television. Today’s generation has a more generic limitation in that many parents want to limit ‘screen time’. It is undeniable that children are consuming a variety of content be it video games, television shows or music videos through a variety of screens be it television, smartphones, tablets or computers. However, it cannot all be that bad with the wealth of educational content that is distributed through these very same screens. Should parents be counting and thus limiting those ‘good’ screen hours together with the ‘bad’ screen hours? Many parents’ aversion to long hours spent in front of the screen is prompted by the misconception that these have to be solitary hours. Why not turn this time spent together looking at interesting websites and using the content as a platform for further discussion?
I often question my personal indifference to my children’s time spent between their desktop and tablet computers. Instead of encouraging them to power down, I am exchanging notes with them on the latest and greatest Apps, getting into drawing competitions with them with interactive games such as Draw Something and when not in their company, gifting them books I think they would enjoy to their e-reader accounts. I know, however, that I would start limiting their screen time if all they were doing was watching mindless teeny bopper comedies. But because they are either reading, drawing, or even playing games that hone their fine motor skills, I not only have absolutely no problem with the screen time, in fact I actually encourage it.
I believe that we can all benefit from the ease and access that children have to information in today’s world. For my children, the additional exposure and cross platform access is making them read in great quantity across a variety of subjects. Experiences such as a visit to the museum are of a greater quality because children can learn and understand more than they would have otherwise – all from a screen. So perhaps, our job as parents is not so much to limit screen time, but to ensure screen quality time, and at the end of the day, channel all of these eye opening experiences into dinner table conversations.
Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.
Categories: Behavior, Health, Must Read, Parenting, Questions, Red-Hot Parenting | Tags: GoGoNews, Health, Kids and Mobile Technology, kids and technology, kids screen time, Limiting Screen TIme
Friday, March 16th, 2012
Do video games have an upside? Scott Steinberg, an author and technology analyst who’s written for 400+ outlets from Parents and CNN to The New York Times and Rolling Stone, tells me that they do. Here he discusses 3 surprising things he believes parents should know about video games:
- They’re not evil, destructive, or going away – besides being a perfectly normal and positive part of childhood, mounting research shows that gaming can have tremendous mental and physical benefits for children. But like any other part of a balanced media diet, you have to be careful what types of titles you consume, in what manner and to which extent. The one tip today’s parent concerned with video games and their potential effects on children would do well to heed: Educate yourself about them, and don’t be afraid to go hands-on with the controller. Games can be a powerful force for good, like any other medium – but you also need to make informed decisions, teach kids positive play habits and foster an environment that’s conducive to healthy interaction and development.
- They’re the future of education. Games and 3D virtual worlds offer massive benefits over passive, traditional solutions such as snooze-inducing lectures and presentations. Case in point: Interactive options encourage learning, experimentation and problem-solving in real-time sans fear of failure in lifelike contexts, letting students respond dynamically as situations evolve, providing a more realistic, engaging and retainable learning experience. Moreover, even everyday titles found on GameStop’s shelves – SimCity, World of Warcraft, etc. – teach players how to manage limited resources, cooperate or delegate authority and problem-solve dynamically, while others such as Civilization V can spark interest in history, geography and foreign cultures.
- Today’s game player could be tomorrow’s CEO. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), kids need more, not less, video game play. “The success of complex video games demonstrates that games can teach higher-order thinking skills such as strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, and adaptation to rapid change,” the Federation announced in a recent report. “These are the skills U.S. employers increasingly seek in workers and new workforce entrants.” Bottom line: The next time you tell your lazy teen to get off the Xbox and get a summer job, you may actually be doing them a disservice.
As you consider these points, do keep in mind that it is always important to make sure that video games – like any other form of technology – do not interfere with all those other important things kids should be doing, like reading, playing, and having positive social interactions. And do note that Mr. Steinberg has recently launched The Modern Parent’s Guide - the world’s first high-tech parenting book series covering all aspects of connected life from social networks to online safety (www.parentsguidebooks.com) – with the debut of The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games, a complete how-to guide for families. In addition to paperback, iBooks and Kindle editions, the volume will be 100% free to download.
Image of game controller via Shutterstock.com