Every parent on this planet should go to www.commonsensemedia.com and sign up. Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. They offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music. Their Parent Concerns and Parent Blog help families understand and navigate the problems and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.
I read a post earlier today from Common Sense Media regarding ipad’s or other tablets for kids. The question in the article is whether or not you should get one of these devices for your child. I didn’t have to think too long about this one. My answer is a resounding NO… The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me. They recommend ZERO hours per day of any screen time for kids ages 0-2 and ONE hour per day of screen time for kids ages 3-5. And you want to decide whether or not to buy your toddler an ipad?
As many of you know, I lecture extensively on the topic of technology and its affects on kids emotional intelligence, coping skills, focus and attention; how it’s delaying development, creating an epidemic of obesity and leading to a substantial increase in mental health problems. Oh, and I can’t forget the sleep deprivation part. I think most parents are aware of this stuff but they kind of fluff it off as being benign. In fact, at a recent lecture I presented I asked the audience of 200 fifth and sixth grade parents to raise their hands if they thought it was a good idea to allow their child to play the video game, Call of Duty. Not a single parent raised their hand. Then I asked them to raise their hand if their kid owned Call of Duty. Again, not a single hand rose. And here’s the kicker–roughly 70 percent of the parents in the audience have bought Call of Duty for their child and allow him/her to play it. Am I missing something here?
The fact is, the majority of people in this world go with the tide, including parents. They see what it is that everyone around them is doing and they make it ok in their mind. Yet somewhere inside they know it is not ok. It’s an adult peer pressure of sorts. This “going with the flow” mentality is known as the selective or social consciousness. We simply make most of our decisions not from sound morals and values but from what we see others around us doing. So in other words, the majority of parents out there are followers and guess what their children are becoming will be by the time they get to high school. Guess what all followers have in common that leaders don’t? That’s right, they do what everyone else is doing. And that is just downright dangerous when you’re a teenager.
So no, your pre-school child should not have an ipad. And no, none of your children, no matter what their age should ever be allowed to sit at a table in a restaurant and spend the entire time buried in a smartphone, ipad or similar device. And no, your child should never have any type of screen in his/her bedroom and should never have one of these devices in his/her hand when sitting in the back seat of your car. I see this everywhere I go and it is driving me nuts. Aside from the mental health issues and other issues I addressed earlier, all of this “virtual reality” is destroying “real world” families. The question I have for you is this – WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?