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Kids and Technology : How to Approach Screen Time with Children

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Lisa Guernsey offers some insights on what research tells us about how to approach screen time with children and some suggestions for ways to approach tech gifts for young ones.

Power User 

Via Education Week


Q. Conventional wisdom about kids and screen time boils down to something basic: the less, the better. But is that really true? What has your research found about kids and screens?

A. The research tells us otherwise. We can’t just focus on quantity. Research tells us that parents and educators need to think about the three C’s: the content, the context, and the individual child. The content—the information portrayed on screen—can make a significant difference in whether children learn from what they see, according to a growing pile of studies on toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school children. The context—what is happening around the viewing or play, as well as how the extent to which screen time dominates a child’s daily routine—can make a difference too. And we can’t forget that every child comes to media or technology with their own needs and interests that can be either fostered or squelched, depending on how media is used. 

 A 5-year-old watching 30 minutes of “Power Rangers,” which is considered by most experts to be too aggressive for young children, may be worse off than a child watching “Between the Lions” for an hour. And a child with some delays in language or literacy skills may get even more out of the “Lions” show than another child. Add in parent interaction—the presence of someone asking him questions about what he saw on screen or sparking his interest in a particular concept or story—and that hour could be really well spent.
Q. You recently wrote a Huffington Post column
about how we need to know more about how kids are accessing
computers/television/cell phone applications before issuing blanket
judgments about their effects. 

A. What shows are they watching or games are they
playing, and how, and why? What kind of cognitive and socially
meaningful activities are involved? Do they talk about the shows or
games afterward, and does anyone encourage those conversations, modeling
how to ask questions or explain what they’ve learned? Who is with them?
And what are the games or shows replacing for different groups of
children? Are kids being deprived of moments of lively, unstructured
play (which research shows that kids need too) or is screen time taking
the edge off an incredibly stressful time of day when parents might
otherwise be yelling and snapping at their children?

Read the entire article here.

Image Source : courosa / Alec Couros

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