Mom Was Right: Go Outside! The Family Time Media Pledge

I read that:  “Humans are quickly becoming an indoor species with a recent study concluding that American children between the ages of 8 and 18 currently spend more than four hours a day interacting with technology. As a result, there’s no longer time for nature; from 2006 to 2010, the percentage of young children regularly engaging in outdoor recreation fell by roughly 15 percentage points. This shift is occurring even as scientists outline the mental benefits of spending time in natural settings.  According to the latest research, untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our grizzled nerves and refreshing the tire cortex.  After a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus.  Jonah Lehrer: Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal, Saturday, May 26, 2012

There is a book worth reading about this called: The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age As the focus of the family has turned to the glow of the screen—children constantly texting their friends or going online to do homework; parents working online around the clock—everyday life is undergoing a massive transformation. Easy access to the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect children from damaging exposure to excessive marketing and the unsavory aspects of adult culture. Parents often feel they are losing a meaningful connection with their children. Children are feeling lonely and alienated. The digital world is here to stay, but what are families losing with technology’s gain?

As renowned clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair explains, families are in crisis as they face this issue, and even more so than they realize. Not only do chronic tech distractions have deep and lasting effects but children also desperately need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, significant interactions with the adults in their lives. Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical work with children and parents and her consulting work with educators and experts across the country, Steiner-Adair offers insights and advice that can help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence as they engage with the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms.

Fellow Parents: Please give me your thoughts on this contract below (I received from my kids school and had them sign it).  Would you use it for your kids? Why or why  not? Is it going too far, not far enough, or is this about right?

At the beginning and end of the day, the best way to keep our kids safe online is to parent them. Kids learn best with small lessons over time as opposed to one big lecture or sit-down talk. Looking for teachable moments when your kids are using the computer will have much more staying power than talking about the issue out of the blue. Similarly, bringing up a headline from the news about a child in the same peer bracket can pack a powerful teaching punch.

The following is a Family Time Media Pledge that you can use for your family. Use this as a starting point and modify as needed for your family’s needs. The goal is to incorporate technology into our lives in a meaningful way that allows us to have a healthy balance of online and off-line time.

Kids and Teens

  • I will never give out personal information online or by text and will avoid all chat rooms except ones my mom and dad have looked at and approved.
  • I understand my parents have a right to check into my media history on my computer and phone and other devices such as iPod Touch, games, and whatever else I use regularly.
  • I will try and keep my total screen time to two (2) hours a day except when doing a project for school, or when my parents give me permission.
  • I will not watch shows or play games that are inappropriate for me or for friends and family watching or playing with me.

Parents

  • I will check what my kids are doing online and on their phones, consider using parent controls, and use them judiciously.
  • I will let my kids know before I check their computers or enable parent controls on their computers or gaming units.
  • I will take the time to be interested in what my kids are doing online and in the digital world and talk to them about that world.
  • I will help them make good media choices.
  • If my child makes a mistake, I will ask questions and learn what happened before I punish or take away technology.
  • I will only take away technology as a last resort for defying our family pledge when other consequences have failed to work, such as reinforcing the rules and increase off-line chores.

Entire Family

  • We will talk as a family during meals at least a day with no technology in sight.
  • We will agree to technology-free times such as meals, weekends, and vacations.
  • We won’t sacrifice important family time for media or digital use of any kind.
  • If media gets in the way, we need to recognize we are using it too much or in a way that is not helping our family.
  • We agree to use technology responsibly by not:
    1. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving
    2. Using cell phones in a public location where it may annoy others
    3. Using technology to harm others by engaging in bullying or slanderous actions
    4. Listening to music with earbuds in a manner that prevents us from hearing passing cars or pedestrians, and never while in the car as the driver

Date:________________________________________________

Signatures:

Parents:_______________________________________________

 

Kids and Teens:_________________________________________

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