STEM – or Science; Technology; Engineering and Math are classes that students will be introduced to as they become school ready. Many children have had plenty of access to technology through their use of a computer, gaming device or cell phone. These devices are preparing them to observe, think, navigate, and negotiate among other things.
A recent non-scientific poll hosted on our Science Of Parenting twitter account asked parents about how much screen time they support for their children ages 5 – 10 and 61% indicated 1 – 2 hours daily. 18% said less than an hour daily and 12% reported between 3 – 5 hours daily. It’s not hard to contemplate that much screen time when you consider schools use computers for some instruction and homework; along with television and gaming devices all popular with kids.
Adults too, are faced with decisions about their own screen time. And really, because technology has skyrocketed, screens are used in most all professions including medicine; education; agriculture and manufacturing, to name a few. When we asked adults about how many hours a day they were in front of a screen 76% estimated they were in front of a screen between 4 and 8 hours a day for work alone. In addition, 46% of respondents indicated they may spend an additional 1 – 2 hours daily in front of a screen viewing social media. And don’t forget the TV, adults reported viewing an average of 1 – 2 hours of television daily.
Managing screen time and finding a healthy balance for the entire family is necessary! If you should like to read more about screen time and health and wellness of your children, check out this Science of Parenting publication: Video Games and Other Media: Pros and Cons
I just finished a conversation with a broadcast news reporter regarding our topic for the month. One comment of his really had an impact on me. “So what you’re saying, is that we need to see technology as an ally in our parenting instead of the enemy,”
He is absolutely correct. As our children begin to use more and more technology in their day to day life, it becomes important for us as parents to see how we can interact with them both. Both, meaning the child and the technology.
One of the things he and I talked about was utilizing technology outdoors to enhance our time exploring nature. Imagine going on a nature walk with your child. You find a peculiar looking bug. If you happen to have technology with you, in an instant you can look up what kind of bug you found. You can learn facts about its habitat, life expectancy and even its eating habits. With technology, you have just enhanced the nature walk right then and there with your child.
Technology and parenting doesn’t have to be an all or nothing battle between you and your child. Why not think of it as a way to enhance your relationship and explore the possibilities of learning together alongside technology. Find the balance between ‘no technology’ parent-child time and ‘focused use of the technology’ (as your ally) .
We would love to hear ways that you have used technology to enhance interactions with your child? Share with us!
As more adults and children want or already have a cell phone, tablet or other device, families may being to wonder: How much technology is too much – or not enough? Our phones, tablets and computers give us a direct connection to all kinds of information, games and entertainment, and communicating with family and friends. The technology also provides opportunities for learning. According to the National Education Association, in order for today’s students to compete globally, they need 21st century skills: They have to be able to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically. Understanding how to use technology can help kids, and parents, build these skills. However, screen time can get out of control at any age. The technology we have access to has the potential to help us, if we are disciplined enough to know when to use it and when to put it down, and interact with the people around us. As they say, everything in moderation, and that includes technology too. Just because a particular technology is available, doesn’t mean you have to embrace it. As a parent, you have the final say in what and how much technology comes into your home.
This month the Science of Parenting Bloggers will discuss how technology can be family friendly, how to support the positive use of social media with family members, and how to set boundaries for a healthy balance of technology and face-to-face social interaction.
Not all parents feel confident having “the talk” with their children — when the topic is science, technology, engineering and math. However, it’s an ongoing conversation parents and kids need to have.
STEM — Science, technology, engineering, and math — is a vital part of our kids’ education and their future and parents play an absolutely critical role in encouraging and supporting their children’s STEM learning at home, in school and in the community. This month we will discuss how to create a science-learning friendly home. We’ll also talk about how parents can be more actively engaged with their children’s teacher and school.
It’s decided; your child has a cell phone. So what happens next? My suggestion is this – time for a family meeting to set ground rules. Sit down together and go over how and when the phone will be used. Will there be some whining? Maybe. Will it make a difference? Yes.
Limits are a good place to start. Depending upon your family phone plan, the minutes may be set or unlimited. And even if you have unlimited minutes, do you want your child on the phone all the time? Talk about what happens when he exceeds the set number of minutes or texts. Who will pay for it? Does she know how to keep track? Are there times and places the phone needs to be turned off? Examples might be: classroom, meals, bedtime, restaurants, worship services, while driving (teens).
Now here’s the kicker – you need to follow the same limits. Kids see how their parents use cell phones and will mimic the behavior.
- If I want my grandchildren to carry on a conversation during a meal, I have to silence my phone when I ask them to do the same.
- When I’m driving and my children or grandchildren are with me, I must ignore calls and texts or pull off the road to respond.
- I can’t send texts or post messages after bedtime if I support a rule of “no after hours” phone use.
Think role model! Teaching your child how to use a cell phone is now as basic as teaching him how to make a bed. Perhaps not too exciting but ground rules will help prevent continuous conflict.
What are some of the rules you have in your family around cell phones?
Getting ready for school in the fall used to mean buying new clothes, some basic school supplies and maybe a new backpack. Today a new cell phone often is at the top of the back-to-school list, but do kids really need cell phones? We know that many kids want cell phones, but not all kids need them. A child should be mature enough to understand how to use the phone safely and be responsible for taking care of it. And whether your child is asking for a first phone or wants to upgrade to the newest version, talk about his or her motivation. Why exactly does he or she need this particular phone?”
Join us this month as we work through the pro’s and con’s of cell phones and children.
During October we are surrounded by visions of vampires – costumes and advertisements and TV shows. But have you considered that vampires are with us every day of the year in the form of energy suckers?
Basically an energy vampire is an electrical product that cannot be switched off completely unless it is unplugged. For example a cell phone charger, if left plugged in, will continue to use electricity 24 hours a day. I found a list of the biggest energy vampires which are: TVs, window air conditioners, computers, video game systems, microwave ovens, and power tools.
Granted, most products go on “standby power” but when you consider all the electrical things in your home, it adds up fast. So how can we defeat the vampires?
The surest way is to unplug anything not in use. But that can get cumbersome so an alternative is to fight the energy vampires with power strips. Plug TVs, video game systems, DVD players, etc. into a power strip. Then flip off the power switch when done. This is way easier than remembering to pull lots of plugs. Get another power strip and do the same for all the chargers for cell phones, tablets, and computers.
Enlist the kids in helping find and fight the energy vampires. Have a little fun with this and train the whole family to “flip the switch” and “pull the plug.”
Did any of you ever play the “Alphabet Game” when traveling in the car with kids? It went like this. Look for any word that starts with the letter “A.” When you see it, yell out the word before anyone else can. Billboards, road signs, business signs, moving vehicles – all were eagerly searched for that letter. And things turned really interesting towards the end of the alphabet. This game got our family through many road trips. 🙂
We can use opportunities throughout a day to help our children practice reading. Following a recipe, shopping for groceries, checking the weather, following sports scores, picking out a movie to go see. Yes, reading materials are more than books. And books can be more than bound pages with a hard cover. Introduce your child to the fun of audio books. Now we have online or electronic options with literally any book at our fingertips. It’s not about which type of method is the best. It’s about getting your family to read so choose what works for you.
How have you made reading fun in your family
Do you have any idea on how much information there is on the internet telling you ‘how to be a mom’?
I realized that I was going round and round and deeper and deeper into the realms of the internet while I was thinking about what to write. I began to be overloaded and confused. What seemed to be such a simple task became overwhelming with so much information.
Isn’t that what being a mom ends up being? A seemingly simple parenting task can become overwhelming because of information from so many places and sources.
So what do we do? Here’s what I did. Pushed my chair back from the computer. Picked up the picture of my girls on my desk. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Deleted my search engines. And went back to the place I knew research was solid and strong. www.extension.org And then I started again.
Sometimes as parents we have to remember that we need a strong foundation of one or two credible resources instead of a whole ‘favorites’ list of lots of opinions. I hope you enjoy searching the eXtension website as much as I did!
I’m texting my daughter wondering when she needs me to pick her up. I’m writing my blog on my laptop. And I listened to the podcast on an iPad. Technology is important to me.
I listened with interest to what Dr. Susan Walker and the guys had to say… I was curious. I wanted to know where I fit in. I was hoping they weren’t going to tell me I was too ‘plugged in’. They didn’t. They made me feel like I was using the technology in a way that really supported my parenting. How refreshing for once! Instead of being told it’s too much I was told…think about how you are using it to support your family life in a positive way.
I started to wonder how I would share with you positive impacts it has made on our family… I hesitated to share this particular story but then decided that maybe there was someone else who wants to know if they ‘fit in’….. Technology can help parents find that emotional and social support they need when they have a child with special needs.
My daughter as Aspergers. She has difficulty in social situations. She is disorganized and struggles with self-confidence. She has amazing in-depth thoughts and ideas but struggles to express them verbally. We got her a phone for her 12th birthday. We initially wondered if she would be able to utilize the phone because she is intimidated to talk typically. But we were ‘hopeful’ that she might take to texting.
The child amazed us in a matter of hours. Her texts were stunning. Long full thoughts with CAPITAL letters and EXCLAMATION points!!!! She was thrilled to be able finish her thoughts without losing her confidence like she does when speaking. We were thrilled! And admittedly annoyed when she would correct us or impatiently text again and again waiting for an answer.
Technology supported her in a way we never guessed. The iPad has given her big imagination and a place to listen to/read books, as well a place to create The cell phone has give her a voice. As parents we struggled with the idea of ‘plugging her in’ wondering what others might say because she is 12.
Technology supported our parenting. It supported our child. It’s boundaries are limitless so it is up to us to set boundaries and find boundaries. Make sure that technology does not ‘replace’ your child’s learning but supports it. Also that it is appropriate for your child’s current development. Support groups and websites for parents of children with special needs are a fabulous place to let technology build us up as parents and fill our parenting tool box.
What ways has technology supported you or your family? How have you benefited from getting your family ‘plugged in?
During the recent holidays I spent three days with my kids and grandkids. Every single person arrived with their smartphone and a laptop or tablet/notebook. While we watched movies and football games, people multitasked – taking and sending photos, texting, checking email, playing games, etc. And yes, I was doing the same.
So I was eager to listen to this month’s podcast on Using Technology to Help with Parenting. An important distinction made early in the podcast was the difference between what and how adults use devices and programs and how parents use them.
I learned in the podcast that technology allows parents to be multi-functional. They use technology for information and communication and for emotional support from other parents. The digital divide is closing with age being a minor predictor. That’s good news for grandparents like me who use technology constantly at work and at home! And people are using Facebook to keep connected with people they don’t see often.
So what does this mean for you as a parent or grandparent? If you are using technology to communicate with your child, that can be a good thing for checking in, sending reminders, etc. But there is a flipside. Be careful not to micro-manage your child’s life or allow them to become too dependent on your constant presence. Children need to learn responsibility and problem solving and how to be independent. Also balance these quick exchanges with the face-to-face interactions that are vital to relationships. Insist on some technology-free time. For example, during our long weekend together meals were “no tech” times. We enjoyed both the food and conversation without the interruptions of tech devices. Of course the rules applied to both adults and kids.
If you are using technology to get information about parenting, there is more out there than we can begin to comprehend. A search on any parenting topic results in endless options. I usually restrict my sources to the educational sites and I am going to add the Tufts University Child and Family Web Guide to my favorites list.
How do you use technology as a parent? And how do you filter the endless possibilities for information via technology?
From podcasts to text messages and Skype, many parents are adding technology to their parenting toolkit. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast takes a closer look at how parents can use the information and communications technology for parenting.
Additional links to be posted with the news release
Previously in this blog, we wrote an article about cyberbullying, which detailed some statistics about cyberbullying, and helpful hints for keeping your child safe from cyberbullies. But, what happens if your child is the cyberbully? No parent wants to be confronted with this issue, but if you ever find yourself in this unfamiliar territory, it’s crucial to handle the situation appropriately for the sake of your own child and for the victim’s sake.
First, you will likely need to limit your child’s use of the Internet. Let the child know that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable, and Internet use will be limited or eliminated until he/she can learn to use online media appropriately. Beyond this initial reaction, you will need to discuss with your child how to use the Internet appropriately. Lay clear expectations and ground rules. Let you child know that he/she will have to demonstrate that he/she understands and follows the rules consistently and without reminders before full, unsupervised use of the Internet will be granted.
Next, sit down with your child to discuss why cyberbullying is so harmful. Oftentimes, it’s easy for people, adults included, to write or type things that they would never say to someone’s face. We all get brave when hiding behind written words because we know we will not have to see the reactions of the other person. We don’t have to see the anger or tears, and we don’t have to hear the immediate backlash. Ask the child how he/she would feel if someone said that to his/her face. Would it hurt the child’s feelings? Make him/her cry? Or feel angry? A good rule of thumb for online chatting is to never type anything that you would not say to the person’s face.
Finally, you can also ask the child to think about what was said, and why it was said. Was the child feeling angry? Betrayed? Sad? Brainstorm with your child how the situation could have been handled differently. Talk through options of how to manage these feelings and confront the situation. Help your child choose an appropriate course of actions for the next time he/her feels this way and needs to handle a situation appropriately.
Do you have experiences with cyberbullying? Have you been the parent, the victim, the cyberbully? How was the situation handled? What tips do you have for confronting cyberbullying?
New technology has given children new ways to bully – sometimes called cyberbullying. Doug and Mike talk with Warren Blumenfeld, an associate professor in curriculum and instruction at Iowa State, about cyberbullying and other bullying trends in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.
From the The Science of Parenting blog