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Parenting in Today’s Digital World

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You’re dining at a Market Square eatery with you family, and the unthinkable happens. Your four-year-old son and six-year-old daughter start bickering and before you know it, they’re seconds from full on mayhem. So what do you and your husband do? Quickly pass them your iPhones. With a swipe of the screen, the kids transform from meltdown mode to mesmerized little angels.

If you haven’t done this before yourself, you’ve surely seen it happen. Apple products are as hypnotizing to kids as they are to adults, and in a pinch, have an uncanny ability to contain kids within the virtual world. But was this part of your parenting plan? As a parent in the digital age, we’re faced with monumental decisions about what technology to expose our kids to and when to do so.

Sleep Deprivation

A decline in sleep due to technology use is a real concern for children among health professionals. A recent study by Kaiser Health found that 75 percent of kids are allowed to use technology in their bedrooms and only 40 percent of parents supervise their kids technology usage. The late night gaming sessions and YouTube viewing can prevent kids from getting the restorative sleep they need to grow, develop and learn optimally. To prevent sleep deprivation, establish a technology curfew for your kids and create a positive conversation about the new rule—be sure to set a good example and follow your own advice.

Limited Socialization

Many parents ask, does all of this screen time affect my child’s socialization? This is a major concern among the professional community as well. Professor of Psychology at California State University, Dr. Larry Rosen, addressed this in a recent article on Huffington Post, citing a lack of time for personal interactions as a top concern of technology overuse. To combat this concern, Dr. Rosen advises using a one to five ratio for technology use. For every minute using technology, five minutes should be spent doing other tech-free activities. This can help to provide balance so your kids can experience the benefits of our digital age and minimize the disadvantages that come with them.

Adept Users

By using technology at an early age, kids learn the ins and outs of the most complex technology before they can read and write. Most kids under five know more about how to use an iPad or iPhone than their grandparents. The touch-screen generation has the advantage of having an understanding of how high-tech gadgets work from a very early age and one can only hypothesize that this helps open their minds to be able to work in the tech industry and possibly even develop technology-based solutions one day. Who knows, by procuring the latest technology today, you could be investing in your child’s future and giving them an opportunity to succeed tomorrow.

Unlimited Access to Learning Tools

One major advantage is that technologies like laptops and iPads provide kids with full access to a plethora of resources to learn about anything they desire like arts, music, or science. It’s the reason schools are adopting programs to bring technology into the classroom, like the Houston Independent School District’s PowerUp program, which plans to provide learning tools to every high school student by 2016. Many schools are also looking to implement digital libraries to replace textbooks so that students can learn from the latest, most up-to-date materials.