iPad Now a Tot and Enthralling to Tots

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This week, the iPad turns two. How time flies! And what a difference it has made. The magical device has captured the imagination and marketplace instantly, engaging millions of people in thousands of new and helpful activities. And its utility just keeps growing, almost without limits.Eitan Schwarz, MD, an Illinois child psychiatrist, inventor of ZillyDilly for the iPad, and author of “Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families”, has a familiar reaction, “The iPad is awesome. A wonderful demonstration of human talent, American leadership, and the power of globalization. Thank you, Apple, for brilliant vision and engineering.”

But according to Dr. Schwarz, also known as Dr. S, there is one important limit that underscores a major general problem, “While amazingly helpful in so many other human endeavors, digital media has much further to go in benefitting healthy family life and development of children. Just look around in restaurants, malls, planes: Kids as young as two or three isolated and quietly burying their faces in these devices. Older kids are spending up to an average of eight hours a day with media.”

There is credible evidence that isolated overuse of media is a symptom of existing psychological distress. However, according to Dr. S,  “There is a lot of negativity right now, but too little research in how to improve things for normal kids. For instance, I have seen repeatedly that sometimes these digital distractions may actually prevent unpleasant and difficult conflicts and are harmless ways to reduce stress.”

Dr. S advises parents to use common sense and discourage isolated overuse of digital media. For preschoolers, solitary media use should be minimized. Kids need interaction even when they seem to shun it. Parents can use digital media to interact, teach about self-discipline and time management, the importance of balance between entertainment and other activities, the richness of the Internet, and the joys of collaboration and family life.

Dr. S takes a positive long view in inventing ZillyDilly, “Parents really want to learn and become empowered. But they need credible, systematic, comprehensive help, including good guidance and effective tools, and there’s been too little of that. Technology is here to stay – let’s treat the iPad as family appliance that really benefits kids and families.”

“So, yes, Happy Birthday iPad and congratulations, Apple. We are learning better to use you better!” he adds.

Apple’s iPad iBook 2: Textbook Publishing, Students, Parents, Teachers, and Collaboration

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Apple’s recent elephantine entry into the textbook world is another evolution in technology’s reach into our lives. Let’s hope that like Apple’s other innovations, it aligns technology to the well-being of children and families.

Apple’s iBook 2 is the new elephant in the room for textbook publishing.

Many textbooks are already digitized at a basic level. There are general pluses to digital textbooks, including the saving of paper, interactive engageability, customizeabiliy to individual students and those with special gifts or needs, and the orthopedic relief to youngsters who now often schlepp 20 lb book bags.

But as a child-psychiatrist and technophile, I see vast potential benefits to a sensible coordinated system of digital textbooks. There are two overriding advantages to systematically and carefully integrating textbooks into the richness of the digital universe.

First, a broader collaboration of stakeholders: Textbooks, as do books in general, traditionally have created civilized communities of their readers across time and space. Now, on a day-to-day level, real time collaboration and sharing among librarians, teachers, students, parents, therapists, and primary sources could enlarge and enrich learning communities well-beyond the school walls, and do so not only through text, but also by audio and video. The modern classroom teacher, who personally knows the student and his or her learning and social experience, is the natural leader of such a student-centered community and must be given needed training, resources and support.

Secondly, the collaborative tradition could only be amplified by deep and broad well-managed accessibility to other resources through hyperlinking, also individualized, carefully edited, and filtered. Educational videogames can become integrated teaching tools, such as those of Houston’s Archimage’s Playnormous. Additionally, hyperlinked sources should include older texts, for example as digitized by Google ‘s visionary Book Library Project. Additionally, new worthwhile material related to the iBook 2 project must be well-annotated and organized and accessible to future generations, rather than disappear into the vast noise of cyberspace.

BTW, concerns about the distractions of other iPad content are not trivial. The device is engaging and magical. Teachers, parents, and software developers must bring technical solutions to maximize the benefits of media consumption while minimizing their power to distract (for example, Chicago’s MyDigitalFamily’s just introduced  ZillyDilly for the iPad, which offers curated content while minimizing distraction.)

Finally, let’s remember that the basic skills necessary to integrate and deliver great educational content do not need reinventing. These are already developed and well-practiced by the talented and expert folks who bring us our current wonderful textbooks. Working with these folks is the visionary power of Apple’s iBook 2 project.

Expert to Parents: From Tots through Teens Give Kids Best Internet with iPad App

Customize a healthy and safe internet for your child

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MyDigitalFamily, Ltd. announced today the release of the ZillyDilly iPad browser for children. Based on parenting guidance by a leading American child and adolescent psychiatrist Eitan Schwarz, MD, FAACAP, DLFAPA (“Dr. S®”), ZillyDilly reinvents the internet for parents and children alike. Dr. S states, “Technology can be very positive, but parents must pay attention and make it so. Children’s minds are miraculously precious, and the iPad and internet are too good to waste. Unless a digital device enhances family life and child development, it does not belong in the home. Period”

To align the use of technology with positive benefits to kids and families, ZillyDilly encourages a healthy balance of online time and content and teaches moderation. The system is based on parenting guidance by Eitan Schwarz, MD (“Dr. S®”), a leading American child and adolescent psychiatrist and author of “Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families”

Dr. S notes, “ZillyDilly is a robust and safe web experience planned and controlled by parents and designed to teach children good media consumption choices. Good habits, formed early with the tutelage of caring parents and professionals, can last a lifetime. ZillyDilly also prepares kids for life in a complex digital world drowning in information with opportunities for regular discussions with parents and other caretakers”

ZillyDilly stays current and relevant. To initiate the ongoing maintenance process, ZillyDilly editors review thousands of websites. Of these, only the best are closely inspected and included in a continuously updated database. Parents then select ranked age-, gender-, and language-specific sites appropriate for five Growth Opportunities: Family Relationships, Socialization, Values Education, Education Enrichment, and Entertainment to immediately populate the child’s browser. Children can visit only sites chosen by parents.

ZillyDilly’s age-sensitive automatic timers offer children a balance of Growth Opportunities and total daily and weekly online times based on Dr. S’ guidelines. Parents can design, track, and monitor the child’s web activity from any desktop computer or iPad. “We want technology to work for good parenting rather than against it for a change,” according to Dr. S.

“Several recent studies have confirmed that parents and professionals are totally right to be very worried: We don’t yet know how much and until what age, but we do know that unsupervised digital media consumption can actually damage children’s functioning and emotional and cognitive development and hurt family life probably at least through the teens,” the doctor adds.

ZillyDilly is a comprehensive system for parents to manage their children’s iPad internet use. Parents can

• Systematically introduce preschoolers to the internet. Parents need a sensible way to bring youngsters into the digital age.

• Expand privileges for older children for growing responsibility and online independence. Children learn at different rates, and their accomplishments deserve recognition.

• Adjust presets and select content to accommodate special needs, such as ADD, autistic spectrum disorders, and specific learning challenges.

• Control online time and content as tightly as needed and even shut down access in special cases.

• Track which websites their children visit and for how long to assure compliance with the media plan and adjust it.

• Practice better parenting in a digital world with extensive advice from Dr. S that appears in FAQs and popups that can be used in managing all media.

• Find best content, including bilingual sites, sites with parent/ teacher guides, or sites for particular interests through built in filters and search functions.

ZillyDilly’s age-specific design is keyed to growing children’s changing developmental needs by

• Allocating online times and contents by age group (2-4 years old, 5-7, 8-11, 12-16, 17+) and gender. For example, Facebook is not an option for younger children. The oldest age group is an option for grownups who want occasional access to the iPad.

• Monitoring safety and blocking external web links such as ads and other distractions.

• Helping protect attention span by limiting choices and practicing focus and time management.

• Discouraging internet overconsumption by teaching moderation and limiting time sitting indoors.

• Offering a comprehensive and fun online experience, especially by including children in the media plan site selection process.

• Promoting ongoing family discussion of healthy and safe media consumption, as essential for today’s children as planning and learning hygiene, diet, and other health practices.

The ZillyDilly system now supports up to five active users, and is ideal for home or small group use. Later versions will accommodate larger groups, such as classrooms, and other practitioners, like librarians, therapists, and pediatricians.

ZillyDilly is available now in the Apple iTunes App Store FREE for a limited time.

 

Second Url: ZillyDilly online

Best iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android Kids Apps and Tips for Parents: ZillyDilly innovative iPad browser system empowers parents. Can I have your opinion?

We have been working for over a year on this iPad app and finally launched it today.

Innovative, unique, expert-curated, child/family-centered, developmentally sensitive browser customizable by parents. Timers actually allot a balanced age-, gender-, language-appropriate online experience giving the right proportions of family, social, values, educational, and fun experiences.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zillydilly-for-ipad/id492673037?mt=8

I would love to hear comments about it and suggestions for making it even better!
Thank you
Dr.S
www.mydigitalfamily.org

 

Texting While Walking

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It should be obvious by now that __ing while walking, driving, or doing anything else that diverts attention from where you place your body threatens immediate safety in ways similar to taking sedating drugs. What is so interesting is how urgently compelling taking such risks seem to be to otherwise normal people to satisfy the irrational impulse to communicate matters that could probably wait. Immediate gratification via digital technology at the risk of long term safety is yet another self-centered, basically infantile behavior that seems to undermine civility and judgement.

As a child psychiatrist, I am at least as concerned about the long-term effects of texting or other media consumption while supposedly parenting that deprives both kids and parents of the attention they need to connect to each other in ways essential to brain development and good family life.

WHY OFFER SCREEN TIME TO PRESCHOOLERS?

Question from a colleague:

Hello Eitan,

It looks like you have been very busy working on something to assist parents and ultimately to benefit children.
There are many aspects of this I like very much. I like that it controls the content and limits the amount of time spent on the internet! That is all wonderful in my opinion.
I have a question about your reason for beginning it at such early ages. I understand that pre-schoolers are using these regularly and this app will help with what and how long they are exposed to this media use. But, I am wondering if you could explain the comment as a benefit stating…. “Introduces pre-schoolers to the internet.” Let me know your thinking behind that being a benefit at this time of early brain development.

Thanks very much for sharing

Dr. S answers:

Thank you for targeting this issue, which I struggled with mightily. In my book I allocate very little time/week before age 5 with media, none of it alone, and emphasize repeatedly that the key purpose of that time is family interaction and call for a parent’s full presence.

However, knowing how things actually are on the ground in reality with increased media consumption, most of it unstructured by adults and random, by preschoolers
who are undergoing rapid brain maturation; and wanting to influence this powerful process, I decided to use ZillyDilly to to educate and motivate parents to think developmentally.

So the ZillyDilly timer presets totally block pure entertainment sites for preschoolers and young school agers and encourage only Family Relatioships from the five Growth Opportunities possible. Additionally, I have an extensive popup explaining child development and the need for parental full presence, etc. I also advise about limiting overstimulation and keeping the actual choices to only a few sites.

This created certain technical challenges to work all of this into the software, but we got pretty close to our goal and ended up with a very sophisticated experience for kids. We wanted to treat this group as separate, and even offer them an introductory cartoon.