Dr. Freed’s Huffington Post Article on Digital-Age Parenting
The Huffington Post published Dr. Freed’s article on the challenges of parenting kids in the digital age. The article begins with the story of a mother who doesn’t know if she can set limits on her daughter’s phone.
The past 50 years has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of technology available to and used by children. There are some benefits to technology usage and although it is impossible to avoid technology altogether, overuse of technology impacts the emotional and developmental milestones of children requiring more, not less parent-child interaction. In my recent research, I found that quality early childhood interpersonal interactions are essential for building relationships, establishing secure attachments and maturing emotionally. Emotionally technology affects children’s need for immediate satisfaction and limits the time that they spend doing other things like playing, which researchers have show is vital in a child’s development. Taking advantage of these opportunities of play allow parents and children to have a more emotional connection, instead of a relationship that is more like a manager-client bond where the parents do their very best to get the most opportunities for their children. Children are not expected to have “down time” where they figure out how to entertain themselves with play or just thinking. Instead, from a very early age, parents hand off their cell phone or tablet for entertainment and as soon as the child is old enough every minute of their time is scheduled with activities from sports to band camp. This is a detriment to our society and is affecting our children physically (eyesight, radiation exposure, attention deficits and aggressive behavior) and also their emotional and social connections. It is critical that we as the parents be the example by putting our technology down and do more things together as a family whether it be outside or at the dinner table visiting about the adventures of the day.