Kids and technology -- when is it too much?

February 26, 2010 4:59:40 PM PST
Kids and TVs, iPhones and computers -- when is it too much time in front of a screen?

How can parents find balance between the amount of time kids spend in front of the screen and the amount of time they're engaged in offline activities?

  • Parental Due Diligence- Research what your kids are up to. Help them separate the good stuff from the junk. Don't say yes or no to new websites, games, gadgets without finding out about how much time they take. Research even the 'no' things.

  • Same principles offline as online- Where are you going? Who will be there?

  • Include your child in the discussion to find out what's most important to them and why?
Should parents take the attitude of "It's a part of our culture so I should just go with the flow?
  • Face that it is part of our lives- Many parents wish that all of the gadgets, websites and video games would just go away. We need to be realistic about the fact that it is now a part of our culture. That doesn't mean that limits shouldn't be set.
What else can parents do to counter the seductive pull of electronics?
  • Have a family game night that doesn't include electronics. Taboo, Apples to Apples, Scrabble, poker, things like that can be lots of fun. And invite some of your child's friends over and offer a pizza to go with it.

  • Now that kids are spending so much time indoors it is important for family activities to take place outside of the house and away from screens. Include your kids in a plan for a day hike to Point Reyes or a softball game with friends. Take a drive to the mudflats or the at a food bank so they remember folks who have so much less than they do.
How does a parents own media and device use and encouragement affect kids?
  • Notice your own modeling- black berry/iphone checking. How much do you encourage being fully involved in activities and how much are you trying to capture activities as digital status updates? When do you encourage electronics as a playmate for your child (while you are making dinner, long car rides) and when does screen time drive you crazy (when it's homework time, when it's time during family time).
Rona and Jason will be speaking at the following event:

Teens & Media Panel
March 20, 2010
Orinda Academy

For more information:

About Jason Brand:
Jason Brand, LCSW is a family therapist with extensive training and experience in new media and technology. In addition to his counseling practice Jason is the founder of Positive Technology Relationships, a program dedicated to helping families, schools, organizations and communities in their efforts to "bridge the screen divide." He is known for his lively and humorous writing and presentations on how analog parents can stop the power struggles and plug-in with digital kids. Jason has provided numerous parent education workshops, clinician and teacher trainings. In addition, Jason has worked with groups of kids in and out of the consulting room with a focus on their social, emotional and health development in regard to screen activities. More information about Jason and Positive Technology Relationships can be found at his website.

About Rona Renner, Founder of Interactive Parenting Media and Childhood Matters Host:
Rona Renner, RN, is an accomplished parent educator, temperament specialist, and talk show facilitator. In addition to her role as host of Childhood Matters, she has been a guest expert on radio and has appeared on national television segments on CNN, 20/20, and ABC 7's The View From The Bay. Rona is the parent of four children, ages 21 to 39, grandparent of two, and has been a registered nurse for over 43 years with a wide range of experience in health care, administration, pediatrics, and patient education in New York, California, Zaire, and India. Rona is dedicated to providing free comprehensive compassionate parent education and support.