The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz

Part II Our Own Devices: Parents and Screens – 7. Mom With Her Phone at the Playground

  • Millennial parents, in particular, spend more time online than any generation before them. That has to affect how they parent. Research shows that kids tend to follow parents’ lead when it comes to screen time habits. When caregivers are sucked into those screens, they responded to the children more slowly, harshly, and otherwise inappropriately. Real dangers can arise with the hyper-availability of technologies designed to capture and hold our attention and to offer the constant opportunity to connect with people other than the ones we are with. While kids are at risk when parents use a screen while driving, they can also suffer other places like at pools and on hikes.
  • Again, moderation is called for. Anya warns against the kind of smothering that some parents engage in. Just having kids, however, can lead to multitasking as their well being is always in the background. When you add frequent interruptions thanks to technology that also extends the work day, it’s no wonder many mothers feel chronically overwhelmed. It’s no surprise that the mom’s Anya interviewed wished they could do a better job of not letting technology interrupt parenting. Don’t forget Maria Montessori’s advice that the environment itself will teach the child while the parent remains a quiet observer. Anya also suggests that you try turning off notifications on your phone for all but the most essential apps. Try uninstalling Facebook or whatever applications you find most addictive.

8 Modern Families – Parents and Screens

  • The chapter contains stories about how parents dealing with all sorts of health, personal, and parenting issues turn to social media. Most parents are heavily into screen time prior to becoming parents. Pregnancy-related apps, for example, outpace general fitness apps. When babies arrive many soon become social media stars. Anya’s agenda here is to push parents to help make online interactions more positive.
  • Parents should take stock of their screen and social media use. If you are famous like Anya, then having your information out there comes with the territory. If you’re not, you have a choice. You also need to think about putting information about your children online. Some parents only send pictures via email and never share information like birthdays online. When your kids have their own accounts, be sure to look over their shoulder and give them your best advice. Anya’s most positive experiences with online spaces are noncommercial, are somewhat private, and have some connection to real-world relationships. Such spaces can be limited to your neighborhood or worldwide.

9. The Future of Digital Parenting

  • This chapter places the ideas already set forth in the context of the coming tech world. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are a group of acronyms that will increasingly shape our experience of the near future. Unlike existing technology where the research is too little, there is essentially no research associated with these technologies that are just starting to invade our lives and the lives of our children. Anya explains each of these new technologies in ways parents should be able to grasp. They offer both a new potential for learning and for overuse as entertainment. They also allow parents a level of surveillance that may sound a bit creepy. This chapter gives parents a lot to think about.

The Art of Screen Time in Five Minutes

  • In this final chapter, Anya provides a summary of the key points in this book. This fits with my vision of the benefit of summaries that can help readers internalize the key concepts after they finish the book and anytime down the road when they want to review the book. All books should feature summaries like this. Now it’s time to purchase this fine book for yourself, your school, and parents you know, and follow Anya on Twitter @anya1anya.
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