Tech is here to stay, and, whether we like it or not, our children are exposed to it every day — at home, in school, and, in an age of smartphones and tablets, virtually anywhere.
The positives are without question. Yet one aspect of the tech age — digital media — can have detrimental downsides. Social media and content companies continually update their algorithms with the goal of keeping users scrolling continuously to their sites, according to Screenagers Tech Talk Tuesdays blog www.screenagersmovie.com. And with research revealing that kids spend more than six hours a day in front of a screen, it’s downright scary.
YouTube, for example, uses algorithms to store past searches, aggregating an endless array of suggested videos, based on those searches, to keep us, “endlessly scrolling,” cautions Screenagers. These are hours that your child can never get back, and it’s a double-edged sword. The searches are funneled into categories dumping people with similar interests into one pot, notes the Screenagers. This limits their choices. YouTube can be a wonderful tool for researching information for school, how-to’s, etc. Yet, as most adults have experienced, its algorithms, and those of other sites, can also pull you into a vortex of endless, and sometimes mindless, zombie-like viewing, from one site to the next.
Today’s Parent suggests setting a schedule for screen time, or, if daily activities mean a scattered schedule, have kids set a timer to a designated number of minutes, and then it’s electronics off.
Binge days are also an idea worth trying, adds Today’s Parent. While school, sports and other activities take up most of the week, set aside screen time to binge-watch, say, on a Saturday morning.
Keep kids busy during down time with family time, board games, outings, playtime; there are lots of means to avoid screens. If screen time is a real problem you can download a tracking app to see what your child is viewing, then discuss those choices.
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