According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, kids spend almost 11 hours per day multitasking in media. How much time does your child spend with each of the following during the average week?
- Social networking
- Cell phone
- iPod or MP3s
- Game systems
Compare this amount of time with how long you observe your child dealing with schoolwork. The Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that the more media kids used, the lower their academic grades. It’s easy to understand: what would a 12-year-old rather do, write a three-part essay for English or subdue an alien race on the planet Zartha?
When kids have the power to choose, they don’t always choose wisely. We must choose for them.
Compare the amount of time your kids spend interacting with media each week to how long they spend interacting with you. I must caution you here that interacting does not mean in the same room because, with technology, people can be together in the same room and have little or no personal interaction. If you spend an hour with your child while you are watching television and your child is busy texting or on Facebook, you are not spending time with each others: you are merely spending time near each other. They’re not the same, and the latter doesn’t count toward the time calculation for this exercise.
Of all the devices you have, do you know how each one operates? Are there any you rely on your child to help you with on a regular basis? Of all the devices your child has, do you know how each one of them operates? How much time have you invested in getting to know what it does, how it works, and thinking about its possible implications? If the amount of time you’ve spent learning your kids’ devices is less than the time it took to buy it, wrap it, and give it, you might want to consider becoming more familiar with yourself.
Looking at your technology use and the technology your children use, what are three negative consequences that you’ve personally experienced? What are three positive consequences you’ve personally experienced? What are three changes you believe would turn some of those negatives positive?
It’s really all about power. As a parent, especially the parent of a preteen or adolescent, you can feel that transfer of power happening on a nearly daily basis. Some of that transfer is normal, natural, and not bad at all. It needs to happen for your child to travel the road of maturity into adulthood. I just want you to be cognizant that technology can accelerate the pace of that transfer because of how powerful and alluring it is and how amazingly in sync so many of our kids are with technology. And be aware that when it comes to technology, our children are mirrors, reflecting our own values, concerns, and priorities.
The above is excerpted from chapter 9 in #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking by Dr. Gregory Jantz.