Technology and kids: When to unplug?

By KBJR News 1

April 11, 2014 Updated Apr 11, 2014 at 9:43 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Most of us can name a few people who are always plugged in.

With technology here to stay, how do we teach our kids to be successful in a world dominated by screens?

"You have to push tap to play, and then you have to tilt the kindle," Bailee Warring of the 4th grade, describes how to play a game on her favorite e-book.

Kids now live in a world dominated by technology.

Often the youngsters are the ones teaching.

Just ask Chad Warring, a father of 3.
He's surprised his youngest, Ava, knows as much as she does about technology.

"They teach Grandpa how to use his phone," he said.

Erin Walsh, an expert on digital media and kids, travels around the nation teaching families how to find a balance between the virtual and real world.

"All the research really shows us is that media are incredibly powerful,” Walsh said. “The good or bad outcomes depend upon how young people use them, and depend upon how families use them."

Walsh says each week, the average american family spends nearly 40 hours more in front of a screen, than recommended by American Journal of Pediatrics.

Nowadays, most schoolwork is done on a computer.

With so many different avenues for distraction on one gadget, Walsh encourages parents to teach their kids how to keep their focus.

"You just shut off and a way, Walsh said. “But you don't set two hours for that, its 15-20 minutes, and then you take a tech break, or a run around the house break. You literally start training your brain to be able to do that focusing work."

Setting limits and consequences ahead of time will help to avoid a power struggle every day.

And by watching usage patterns, Walsh says parents can make sure kids are learning how to wrestle with feelings like waiting, frustration, or delayed gratification.

"So is every time your child gets frustrated in line at the grocery store, the first thing is to entertain them with a screen? Or is that what you use sometimes because it's a long day and we all have to get out of here," she said.

Helping a younger generation find a balance in a technology driven world.

"We make sure they read before they get to play on it,” Warring said. “Their homework is done and their room is clean.

Connect with Erin Walsh to speak with one of your groups or organizations.

Jennifer Walch
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