I personally love good technology and will probably get an iPad or something like it for myself. But before bringing a new gadget home, every parent must think through its impact on the kids and family life.
Kids left to themselves consume media as they do junk food. The more the media, the poorer the grades and the lesser imaginative play and family interactions. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 1/5 of those ages eight to eighteen now get as much as nineteen hours of media daily but report more unhappiness.
I am also concerned that parent distraction by media might be damaging vital formation of youngsters’ brain circuits. I have seen mothers on their cell phones or texting while breast-feeding –surely they are not fully present with their infants at a key moment. Can such interruptions in bonding contribute to later brain-based problems, including to the recent rise autism? There can be great benefits to technology, but there are alarming trends and important unanswered questions.
I believe that parents should commit to leading their youngsters towards positive uses whatever electronic media happen to us. They should plan media consumption as they do meals, and for the long run, as they do for college. By being fully present and applying sound child-rearing and family support principles, parents can now create balanced media plans that lead youngsters to the values and orientation they will need to succeed in an increasingly technology-rich world.