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Monday, January 12, 2015

Did Your Child Get One of These?

Parenting Digital Natives: Time and Content Matter Most

Many youngsters received electronic tablets as gifts during this holiday season. A discount store made some of them available for as little as $29, and that made tablets affordable for more families. In fact, my guess is that more tablets were given than books this season. I even watched as my grandchildren spent time with their new gadgets. As a result, I spent time talking to their parents about monitoring time and content with digital devices.

Our children are digital natives and embrace electronic gadgets with eagerness. Swiping is as natural to them as swallowing. They are uninhibited by the use of almost any device and seem to be mesmerized by the images on the screens. While we want our children to be comfortable with and capable of using technology, we must closely monitor the amount of time that they spend with tablets and other hand-held devices. Using technology with ease opens the world of learning to them, but it also opens a world of distractions and pre-occupation with a device. If your child has access to a tablet, monitor the amount of time that they spend using it. You may have to use a timer to keep track of the time, but it will help your child know and understand that there are still other worthwhile play and learning activities (and books) that are equally entertaining and interesting.

The content that our children view on digital devices should always be monitored by an adult. Yes, there are learning applications available to our children, but not all games and applications are beneficial to our children’s proper growth and development. As parents, we have to know and be familiar with the games and applications that our children use on these devices. We should know the language used as well as the range of activities of the characters on our child’s favorite applications and games. Spend time with your child, watching her play the game. Ask questions about the game, and see if she will let you have a turn playing the game.

Finally, never let a digital device take the place of human interactions. Our children still need our attention. They still need to know how to have conversations with us, with other adults and with their peers. And they still need to know that we care enough about them to set limits on what they do.

Veda Pendleton McClain is a mother, grandmother, author, and educator. She recently released her second book on parenting titled, Your Presence Is Requested. It is available through or at .


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