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Screen Smart Parenting

Screen-Smart ParentingOne of the top questions I get from readers is how to control their kid’s screen time. Now that kids have access not only to computers but also smartphones, tablets and other devices it is even more challenging to set up a system to help them be safe and limit the time they spend using devices.  I have explained in many of my posts that I believe helping your kids control their screen time and understanding internet safety starts with age appropriate and regular family communication on those topics.

 

 

Jodi Gold MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist that has a unique perspective, especially when it comes to family communication! When I found out that she just wrote a book called SCREEN-SMART PARENTING: Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices (Guilford Press, November 1, 2014, paperback) that had research and practical strategies, I wanted to find out more.

 

 

 

Screen Smart Parenting Jodi Gold MD1.       What motivated you to write SCREEN-SMART PARENTING?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist.  Every day, I went to work and listened to my patients.  A theme began to emerge.   This one got dumped on text and that one was playing too much World of Warcraft.  Parents were worried that their kids were distracted during homework and increasingly concerned about how their children presented themselves online.  Then I went to pick up my younger children (aged 5, 7, 9) at school and this mom was concerned about too much TV and that one was upset that her 4 year old could navigate an iPhone. I realized that if I listened carefully, I couldn’t make it through the day professionally or personally without confronting the realities of our changing digital landscape.  I wasn’t startled that technology was ubiquitous or that current parents are the last generation of digital immigrants.   I was surprised at the fear and ignorance. Parents, teachers and families were constantly fearful and distrustful.  I went looking for answers on how to embrace technology and use it for good, but found little guidance.

 

At the same time, I had been presenting nationally about treatments for ADHD.  A senior editor from Guilford Publishers approached me about writing a book for parents about ADHD.  I really felt like there were many good books about ADHD already on the market.  I was convinced that the Guilford editors would think that I was scattered and crazy but I told them that I really wanted to write a handbook for raising kids in the changing digital world.  I wanted to reach both physicians and parents.  I had begun to talk about the digital world with my patients and their families within a developmental framework.  We spoke about when children should be reading, making friends and going out alone.  Theses are all normal parts of growing up.  I realized that reading an e-book, getting a phone and creating a social media profile were also part of growing up but we didn’t have any graphs, charts or handbooks.  I wanted to write a book that looked at the existing research and offered concrete recommendations based on an understanding of research and child development.  Guilford didn’t think that I was crazy and they agreed to publish it before I wrote the first page.”

 

 

2.    Tell us about how you brought your background in as a doctor to helping explain these issues?

 

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “Both the Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry have begun to weigh in on parenting in the digital age.  It is critical that physicians make this a priority for research and policy.  I believe that we should be adding “digital milestones” to our list of developmental milestones and challenges.  I hope that Screen Smart Parenting will deepen the dialogue on raising digital citizens in both the medical and parental world.

 

In medicine, we base our decisions and approaches on double blind longitudinal studies.  When they are not available, we do our best find evidence based research.  The goal is to use sound research to support our medical treatments and decisions.  In pediatrics, we view everything on a developmental framework.  Children are not little adults.  We need to understand children and adolescents from a developmental lens.  We misperceive and mistreat children if we apply adult rules to them.  In psychiatry, we use what is called the bio-psycho-social model.   This means that we try to understand children and adults in a multi-faceted way that encompasses genetics, psychology and the realities of family and home life.  In psychology, we understand human behavior so we can develop incentives and plans that help children internalize healthy behaviors.  We need to use this knowledge as we build behavior plans and create consequences around digital devices.    I used these basic principles from research, medicine and psychology to write Screen Smart Parenting.  I believe that it is one of the first books on this topic written within a medical model from the standpoint of a practicing clinician.”

 

3.   What is screen smart parenting and what areas does your book discuss?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “Screen Smart Parents are parents who are thoughtful and communicative about managing digital technology.  They want to cultivate online resilience which scientists increasingly feel is linked to happiness and success in life.  They want to instill in their children the tenets of digital citizenship.  Eventually, screen smart parents will have the experience of being digital natives and citizens.  Right now, most of us are digital immigrants with newly stamped passports and limited command of the digital language.  Screen Smart parents do not need a Ph.D. in computer science but they need to check their fear and be willing to learn from and with their children.

 

In Screen Smart Parenting, I ask parents to figure out their parenting style, understand the digital landscape and develop a family technology plan.  In order to parent your children through the digital landscape, you need to understand your family culture and your own relationship with technology. It’s important to understand the developmental evolution of the use of digital technology: what happens at what age. It’s also essential to get a feel for how digital technology is actually used today by children and adolescents.  In the book, I write about how technology does affect your child’s development.  I also introduce the hot topics that monopolize our conversations from the iBlankie to the proverbial 5 minutes of Facebook fame.  In the second part of the book, I write about different age groups, each of which explains how digital technology intersects with what your child needs to achieve during those years and how you can promote technology as a tool to support, not hinder, healthy development. In the third section, I take a more sophisticated look at children who need more attention and parental involvement and may exhibit red flags for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. These “orchid” children may need extra care and modified digital parameters.  In the conclusion, I used my experience with behavioral interventions and plans, to give parents the tools to build a realistic and effective family technology plan.  I offer age-appropriate templates and suggestions on how to trouble shoot.  The goal is to build a family plan that includes your children’s voice in finding balance and using technology as a tool.”

 

 

4. What’s the right age for a phone/smartphone/social media access?

 

Jodi Gold, MD: “This is a personal family decision but I can give you some guidelines as a mother, physician and expert in this field.  Your child will eventually own a smartphone so the question is not “if” but when.  You should give your child a phone when he/she truly “needs” one.  Most kids get their phones and smartphones between the ages of 11 and 14 years of age.  Here is a list of reasons for why you might choose to give your child a phone prior to the age of 11.

  • Parents are divorced and the child would like to have more control over his or her communication with the non-custodial parent, and/or there is shuttling back and forth.  A phone may help with the transition between two households
  • A child is taking long bus rides and needs to communicate with parents for some reason
  • The child has a chronic medical condition and needs a phone in case there is an urgent need to reach parents and caregivers
  • The child has a psychiatric or medical condition that causes her to miss a lot of school.  A phone may help to keep in touch with friends and teachers

It is likely that this decision will be somewhat driven by community/peer pressure.  It is important for parents to be thoughtful about when and how they introduce a phone.  A phone should be introduced in a developmental way (especially if you are giving a child a phone at a younger age).

*I can talk more about social media but similar rules apply.  However, there is some social media that is targeted for young children.  I encourage interested children to start with child-friendly sites before they move onto Twitter and Instagram.”

 

 

For more information, check out her website Screen Smart Parenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips To #NavigateTheHolidays With Gift Offerings at GameStop

*Disclosure: Sponsored post.

 

I am a regular Gamestop customer, whether it’s pre-ordering a new kid’s video game or buying used video games and accessories.  So, I was excited to recently host with Techlicious – a Gamestop event and tour at my local GameStop store. We had a fun group of bloggers, many who were already GameStop customers and excited to learn even more with a tour by the local GameStop team. Beyond being the “world’s largest, multi-channel video game retailer“, GameStop offers:

 

***Video games for  all types of consoles (Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii) along with Video game consoles,  portable gaming devices, tablets and more.

 

 

***Tech accessories including headsets, tech toys such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity and even my kid’s favorite Lego video games (that compliment nicely all the Lego building they do).

 

 

***Gift Cards and Stocking Stuffers.

 

 

Best of all GameStop has affordable “Buy-Sell-Trade programs for video game hardware, software, digital content accessories, consumer electronics (including Apple Devices) and more“. To keep within our budget, we have our kids identify games they no longer play with to help save up for new ones. I was happy to find out that “GameStop also offers more then 2,500 video games under $20″. That also helps with the budget!

 

When looking for video games at GameStop we can always first check if there are used copies available. Long ago my teen figured out that we should sign up for the GameStop Power UP Rewards (customer loyalty program) – so we did. Along with the rewards, exclusives, point earning opportunities and extras, the GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards benefits include earning points towards future purchases.

 

 

 

We also had a lunch where we discussed holiday tech shopping tips, trends, tips on choosing video games and more from Suzanne Kantra of Techlicious and the GameStop team.

 

 

 

GameStop, with research partner Brierley+Partners, asked 500 U.S. gift givers what was at the top of their purchase lists this holiday season (fielded from November, 2013). Listed below are some highlights shared from the event and a press release:

  • 42 percent of shoppers surveyed plan to purchase video game related items for their children this holiday – including video games, consoles, and accessories.” While we’re always thrilled for the holiday season, this one is especially exciting as we welcome the first new gaming consoles in nearly a decade, along with a flurry of new titles to show off the systems’ next-gen technology,” said Ashley Sheetz, chief marketing officer of GameStop. “It seems more people than ever, at almost any age, are getting into gaming, and if this survey is any indication, the number of gamers will keep on growing thanks to the holidays this year!”
  • 84 percent of ‘gifters’ are aware of store and website trade-in programs, and nearly 20 percent are planning to use them to help defer gift costs. We learned that “GameStop offers instant store credit or cash on a vast range of products, from old video games, consoles, to smartphones, tablets, and other electronics sitting in drawers and on shelves. And with special holiday trade-in bonuses, the savings can grow large very quickly!”
  • 82 percent of ‘gifters’ expect to turn to store employees when making purchasing decisions this holiday season. “We know holiday shopping is stressful and even more so when presented with the plethora of gaming choices out there,” said Jason Cochran, vice president store operations and strategic initiatives of GameStop. “Our goal is to relieve some of that stress with our trained employees armed with the latest gaming knowledge, as well as through our loyalty and trade-in programs that can make the financial strain of the holidays less stressful.”

 

When it comes to video games for my kids, I spend the time to gather information about the game by using not only sites like Common Sense Media and ERSB, but also knowledgeable GameStop salespeople. Over lunch, we had a chance to talk about screen time and tips to understand if a game is appropriate for kids/family use:

 

  • Current state of kids & technology:  83% of parents set rules or have a conversation with kids about the safe use of technology, with the majority of parents setting limits starting at ages 5-8*, Overall daily screen time for kids under 8, 1 hour 55 minutes, decreased by 21 minutes per day vs 2 years ago.** More time on: mobile devices, Less time on: TV, DVD, Computers, Video Games.*From Microsoft/Comscore study 2013 .
    **From Common Sense media 2013 survey: Kids 0-8.
  •  Games are social: 40% of gamers play with friends with 17% playing with their spouse or significant other and 34% playing with other family members. Video games are a family activity: 40% of parents play video games with their children at least weekly. Most video games being sold are appropriate for kids with 73% of the 245.6 million video games sold in 2011 rated Everyone (E), Teen (T) or Everyone 10+ (E10+). Ninety-one percent of games evaluated by ERSB in 2012 were rated E, T or E10+, From Entertainment Software Association.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations : Establish screen-free zones, turn off electronic devices during dinner.  For children and teens: limit entertainment media to no more than 2 hours per day (does not include homework). For children under 2: no TV and entertainment media.
  • Recommendations to help find the appropriate video: Common Sense Media offers the ability to search game titles for younger kids and drill down by age, content, educational benefit and more. PluggedIn.com offers the ability to sort by rating, platform and genre. ESRB rating search app (and website) flags “Interactive Elements” so you’ll know if the game shares location, personal information or user habits. ESRB recently expanded search filters for exclude/include content type (violence, language, nudity etc) or a specific rating, plus access to rating summaries for packaged games.

 

How do you choose which games are appropriate for your family? What types of family technology are on your holiday shopping list?

 

Here are some posts from other bloggers at the event:

Mom With Apps: Three Tips for Family-Friendly Gaming
ParentGrapevine: GameStop – The Place to Shop, Sell, Trade-in and Buy for the Holidays
 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

My Kids Are Awake With Access to Tech, But Pretend Play Is Still King

This morning I opened up the New York Times and read the article by Tamar Lewin called “If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online“. Later I saw the New York Times article had made it to Techmeme.

While reading the article I took a moment to look at what my kids were doing. Were my kids using any technology this morning?

So I decided to review the morning’s activities: After my 10 year old and twin 6 year old boys ate breakfast, they went into our living room (affectionately called the “bouncy room” because sofa pillows are used for forts and jumping) for some pretend play before school. They had rolled up paper for swords and were pretending to fend off the “bad guys”. A few nerf guns sneaked their way in, but had no bullets so they ended up being a prop as well. When it is was time to leave, my boys put on their little yellow rain boots and rain jackets and went to school.

All of this “pretend play” happened in our house that is full of technology. We have multiple laptops including my 10 year old that has his own laptop, iPod and Nintendo DSi. My twin 6 year olds have Leapfrog moblie gaming units and their older brother’s hand me down Nintendo DS’s. The TV in our family room may be 10 years old, but it still works great. We have Direct TV DVR’s and a Nintendo Wii. We have multiple Nintendo racing, sports and Mario Bros Wii games with lots of accessories and just recently purchased the Tony Hawk Thride game and accessory board. My 10 year old has a simple cell phone that is “Pay as you Go” with no data plan but ample calling and texting. His friends have the Sony Playstation and they enjoy playing Lego Star Wars. We only have one TV in our family room, but multiple computer screens in our house.

The New York Times article “If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online” brought up some very interesting discussion points about how much time kids are spending on technology each day:

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Disney Extends Their Digital Offerings: Disney Digital Books Launched This Morning

Today I received this press release that announced Disney is going Digital in yet another away with Disney Digital Books. I will be finding out more details and will add them to this post:

“Disney Digital Books (www.disneydigitalbooks.com) officially launched this morning. This vast library is Disney’s first-ever collection of digital children’s books – and the browser-based service is PC- and Mac-compatible, and does not require a download.

The new portal is the brainchild of a team of young, tech-savvy, creative folks at Disney Publishing Worldwide (the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and magazines), which has been around since 1930.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a webcast today at 1:00PM EST (open to the public).  Join here: http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=62362

Over 500 Disney picture and storybooks will come to life with animated illustrations and authentic character voices.  Classics include more than 60 Winnie the Pooh books and such popular titles as Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, Disney Princess, Cars, and Hannah Montana.

Key features include:

* An age-appropriate dictionary that lets children click on any word to hear it read aloud;
* Reading certificates to encourage readers;
* A “Story-Builder” feature so kids can create their own stories;
* Books are separated into three reading levels:  (1) for beginner readers and a companion, (2) for independent readers, and (3) for readers ready for chapter books;

Monthly subscriptions are only $8.95 – and annual and gift subscriptions are available as well.  A free trial of the service is available today.”

 

TechMama hits the Red carpet for MUST SEE movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs When I found out that Sony invited a group of moms to LA to get photo/video tips while using Sony Digital Imaging products, I was very excited to use the Sony cameras and camcorders. I was also told that we were going to the premiere of the new Sony Pictures 3D movie came out THIS WEEKEND: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

I enjoyed reading the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book to my children when they were younger, and spent the week before the trip asking my sons and their friends what they liked most about the book. They all remembered numerous vivid details in the book, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The images of falling food was obviously so rich for these kids’ imaginations. Lucky for them, and for parents who like to sneak in some hidden learning with the nighttime “read me a story” request, there are also weather-related Language Arts and Science lessons tied into the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book and movie. Scholastic published an interview with the book authors Ron and Judith Barnett.

After seeing the movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” at the premiere (See disclosures at bottom of this post) last weekend – I had a MAJOR epiphany. The movie not only has amazing 3D graphics and animation to give viewers a “real taste” (yes, pun fully intended) of what it is like to experience falling hamburgers, a spaghetti tornado, a Jello palace, candy rainbows and other food fun – but it also has positive messages for kids and adults alike and geek
surprises along the way. One geek surprise in the film that is also on
the Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs website is a poster of Nikola Tesla,
who was a real life inventor and electrical/ mechanical engineer. Next
time I see the film, I will be looking to find more surprises. The movie is one of those feel good movies where the only violence is against gummie bears, geek (including science and math) is cool for boys and girls, the main characters all struggle then improve communication to their loved ones, selfish is NOT cool and the most important things in life are family/loved ones, as well as embracing your true self.

On a personal note, I reached an epiphany with the help of the “story” behind the movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the interviews with the Directors and cast. My ten year old son is bright and like many of his peers inspired more the technology of movies and movie making than by his 5th grade homework. He can figure out the intricate features of my and my friends’ digital cameras faster than any adult. This inquisitive 10 year likes to spend time explaining to my 6 year old twins – while they are watching shows or films –  what is real versus what is computer generated and how it is done. One of the first things he did when he received his new MACbook was to play with iMovie, create green-screen movies and then attempt to explain the whole process to his family and friends. “Look mom, I figured out how to use the green screen function“. To that, I said “Later, I am cooking dinner“. One morning while I was asleep my son found my DSLR camera tripod and figured out how to use it for the his digital camera to take videos with the timer function. The first thing he said to me that morning was “the video quality is much better when I use a tripod“.

Then, I attended the movie premier and witnessed the main characters of the film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) struggle to embrace their true self. Flint’s father also struggled to support that journey. Another message in the movie was that math and science, along with other fundamentals, are important to master if you are going to “save the world“. This helped me see that I should be more active in supporting my son’s interest in the production side of video/films. I decided to hand over one of my camcorders and a memory card to my son so that he could take and manage his own videos. I set aside time this past week to discuss how to edit videos and tied in the less-exciting school work part of his life by explaining that he needs to do his homework if he wants to go to a college and study filmaking. Best of all I explained to my son that if he is going to save the world, I mean master the art of filmaking, that mastering math, science and language arts now in school will help give him the fundamentals he will need for future success.

I then used Twitter to share my epiphany with the film’s directors, Phil Lord responded with:

Cloudywithachanceofmeatballs

The Writing/Directing team for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is Phil Lord and Chris Miller. We had the chance to interview both of them during press rounds the day before the premiere. The first thing I learned was not a big surprise: when they were younger, both enjoyed writing plays and creating short films. They met in college and realized they have similar interests. During the interview they were funny, completely engaging and witty as they explained that the movie production was a team effort – with over 500 team members (or “cells” in an organism as they called it). Each day on the set was like a food fight as they had to build each part of how food falls into the overall animation. When asked what hints Phil Lord and Chris Miller would give to kids, a few were “math/science is cool”, “school is important”, “Be comfortable with who you are”, “Embrace your inner wierdo/geek”, “Do something original and do it boldly”. The last hint “Do something original and do it boldly” is what resonates for me as a way to describe the effort behind creating the movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.

The RED CARPET PREMIERE

Techmamas_red_carpet

Armed with a Sony A330 DSLR
camera that we each had use of for the weekend and my smartphone (for
live Twittering) I and the other moms each had our own spot on the red
carpet
to catch the action. We loaded our pictures to the Flickr group Sony Mom Event 2009.

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