Gov. Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver on Right Track

Dad/husband Arnie and mom/wife Maria are doing the right thing by restricting media use in their home, according to an expert: “When I come home at night and we have dinner, there’s no phone calls accepted. The kids aren’t allowed to have cell phones at the table,” Schwarzenegger said to Diane Sawyer on ABC Nightly News 10/27/10. In fact, across party lines, president Obama’s kids don’t get to watch TV during the week.

According to Dr. Eitan Schwarz, a Chicago-area psychiatrist, these are examples of smart parents protecting their family’s family life in a way all parents these days must do by limiting the time and place of technology use. “I also wish that the press would focus more attention on these fine examples of how parents deal with media, so that standards in popular culture could change for the betterment of family life.”

Dr. Schwarz, also known to his patients as Dr. S, says, “But restricting is not enough if we are to raise children successful in the digital age. Parents must also systematically select the content of media for their kids’ consumption with as much thought and care they give to selecting the foods they feed them.”

Dr . S adds, “These are powerful tools, and not toys. Parents should regard them as appliances. None belongs in the home with kids if it does not serve their development and the well-being of the family. I discuss fully the ingredients of age-dependent media plans in my book ‘Kids, Parents, and Technology: A Guide for Young Families’ and online at”

Ref appeared at:

Psychiatrist to Parents: Make New Apple Operating Systems Good for Your Family

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Video Clip: Click to Watch

It looks like Apple is targeting youth in its mobile applications, as well as laptops. For example, David Chartier’s recent review “iTunes 10 Goes Social,” describes Ping, an elementary Facebook-type connection among kids purchasing music on iTunes. The same issue describes Apple’s new iOS 4.1’s Game Center as offering software developers better means to ” implement multiplayer features into their games while letting players more easily challenge their friends to matches.” Additionally, iOS 4.2 will be especially good for mobile TV apps.

Eitan Schwarz, M.D., a veteran Chicago-area child psychiatrist, notes, “Such expansions of technology into children’s lives can be either good or bad. What makes the difference is how parents organize home media consumption — and by media I mean from big screen TV’s, through computers and smartphones, to the tiniest iPod — to benefit kids and the life of the family with the right balance of nutrients.”

Dr. Schwarz states, “The new Apple operating systems can encourage developers to make applications that are more pro-social and promote healthy family life. But parents must be selective and involved from an early age.”

Most of today’s older kids have received little systematic guidance from their parents. 1/5 of kids 8-18 spend up to 19 hrs/d (including texting and multitasking) total media time. Media use is associated with poorer grades and family life and less reading and imaginative play. When parents set limits for 1/3 of youngsters, media consumption drops by only 1/3, showing that restriction is just not enough.

Dr. Schwarz, also known to his patients as Dr. S, has researched the use of media in play therapy. He adds, “Technology is great — we need to use it in positive, proactive family-centered applications. But in the 10+ years of media explosion into the lives of younger and younger children, there has been little systematic effort to guide parents about their best use. In covering new media or device launchings, only few reporters ever help parents consider potential benefits or hazards to family life.”

Dr. S, author of “Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families,” adds, “My advice: Parents have home court advantage. Their commitment must be big, and they need good expert help to keep kids from consuming junk media, just as they do junk food when not guided. Parents should plan kids’ media use just like they plan meals for healthy nutrition. Start early and work at it as part of daily parenting. A Media Plan must be based on sound child development and family health principles and must help families succeed as their kids brains are wired actively during early childhood. It must prevent improper chaotic use in the teen years before it starts.”


David Chartier (Macworld, November 2010, p72, also see

Macworld, November 2010, p23, also see

Computing Our Children’s Future

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Computer science education is a generally well-managed and sensible subcategory of a larger area – children interacting with digital technology in the home. This larger ‘space’ — the intersection of technology, child development / neuroscience and family life, and media is relatively more chaotic. This important intersection has gotten relatively little systematic attention and organization that has made practical sense to parents, who often start children off with digital devices early in life without an sensible guidance… My book addresses this need.

What’s Your Hobby?

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This is great article. As and expert on kids and families in my office and the author of KIDS, PARENTS & TECHNOLOGY: A GUIDE FOR YOUNG FAMILIES, I emphasize the importance of using media — and there is so much out there — to enrich ourselves and our families. Amongst the torrent of digital information and social noise flooding us and our children, it is at home that we can put things in proper perspective by having both solitary and joint family hobbies.

With “Avatar,” Technology Has Never Looked So Human in Film (VIDEO)

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AVATAR is an astounding result of so many human and technological forces coming together. As talented folks present us with wonderful gifts based on technological marvels – and I hope they do more and more — we must do our part to develop new ways of thinking about how to bring these into our lives positively. As a long-term child/family therapist and technophile, I have sought ways that family life and parenting can benefit from these innovations and offer my ideas in KIDS, PARENTS & TECHNOLOGY: A GUIDE FOR YOUNG FAMILIES. One way is to enjoy such a film with your kids and learn about the way it was made as an example of the wonderful application of the human spirit using technology.