We live in a digital age and with technology being everywhere it's a very big part in families lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents take a very active role in their children's screen time. Unlike what some people think not all screen time is bad however it should be monitored. Parents can do this by making sure that how their children use technology is educational and causes them to think. Also parents can set time limits and technology free zones.
I recently interviewed MIT Professor, Eric Klopfer and he shared with me his views on Kids and Technology. He also gave me simple ways on how to make smart decisions on how my family uses technology.
Dr. Klopfer, what are your thoughts on the new AAP guidelines?
I think the new guidelines are, actually, very thoughtful. They take into consideration both the positive and the negative potentials of media. One thing I don’t think they do is go far quite far enough in differentiating the different kinds of media that kids are engaged in on the screen – differentiating things like watching a video from reading a book or playing a game or doing interactive music on a screen – and I think it’s important for parents to recognize that not all screen time is created equal, and that interactive activities are actually much more potentially beneficial than passive activities.
How can kids and family stay connected in the digital age?
I think this is one thing that’s become really great in the last few years. These kinds of devices have opened up new means of communication. For example, on the Innotab 3S from VTech, there’s an app for kids called Kid Connect that allows parents and kids to stay connected so that parents and kids can exchange voice messages, text messages and video throughout the day, whether the parent is on the road or at the office.
When and how is the right time to introduce kids to technology?
That’s a deeply personal experience that each family should have individually. Think about the tech-savvy of the kids, the tech-savvy of the parents, the interest of the kids, and really have a conversation with the kid around what the right time and what the right way to be introduced to media is. Not just simply by default when the parent has a free moment and hands them over a device.
What do you say to people who say video games and tablets are harmful to children?
I think those people haven’t really looked at what is going on in games enough. Good games, anyway, can really provide a great, challenging experience for kids where they are wrestling with challenging problems, and they’re trying to find different kinds of solutions to novel situations. I think that games can present a great learning experience for a lot of kids. I think that as long as they are playing games that are customized for the right age and experience of the kids, the games are a really great way to learn.
I think Professor Klopfer made some great points. Do you set parameters on your children's use of technology? If so, in what form?
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