I promise that I will only send two more technology related notes to start the year. Last week, I shared Dr. Leonard Sax’s piece about the magnified impact of technology on girls. Dr. Sax suggested that children should not have any technology in their bedrooms. Turns out, at least with cell phones, Dr. Sax’s recommendation is backed by research.
Sadly, I am dependent on my phone. I am notoriously disorganized, and my phone (at least I have convinced myself) helps me with executive functioning. Last Tuesday, I left my phone at home, and I was literally anxious for the first hour and a half of my day. I am accustomed to the constant pinging--helpful notes from my calendar, distracting Alabama football updates, and the arrival of new emails.
I was able to move on and actually had a productive morning. I was more focused and able to complete several mini-projects. (I still had my computer. The difference, I had to make an effort and be intentional if I wanted to engage with technology.)
What does this have to do with your child? In a recent article in The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer shared the results of a study conducted at the University of Texas. Guess what? Students who powered off their cell phones and left them outside of the classroom performed better on a test of memory and attention. Your child does not need his phone at school. And, she does not need her phone during homework time.
When your child goes to bed, the cell phone and other devices must go to bed (in a separate room.)
Set some device free times: dinner, car rides, or Saturday mornings.
Talk to your child frequently about your expectations.
Monitor and occasionally check your child’s digital footprint. (Check out the full list of available software and apps or start now. You can monitor, set usage times, and filter content.)
I also received this recommendation from a middle school parent for a monitoring app.
“At home, we use Circle and Circle Go which are mentioned in the article you link. In short, we've found this to be a very effective tool in limiting the total amount of connected time, setting aside 9pm - 7am for sleep time and blocking inappropriate content.
What I like about Circle is that the kids are also learning to independently, effectively manage their limited resource of X hours of connected time. This happens without the parents having to invasively monitor and police what the kids are doing, when Circle time is up, they are cut off for the day and that's it, and they can see on their devices what they have left during the day.”