In the months ahead some children will be attending school in person with masks on and others will do so online. These choices are difficult because the risks are unclear, but technology is center stage in either case. Parents and teachers are looking closely into the healthiest ways for kids of all ages to use technology to learn and grow.
Technological usage can affect the parts of the brain that control a teen’s and child’s personality. This can affect the way kids interact in that there might be changes in their ability to regulate emotions, remember events, and pay attention in their daily lives.
Kids Brains and Screen Use
Major findings from a $300 million National Institute of Health federal study on 11,000 kids’ brains and screen use for more than a decade has resulted in the following:
- The brains of nine and ten-year-olds are experiencing a premature thinning of the cortex.
- Kids who spend more than 2 hours a day on screens get lower scores on thinking and language tests.
- It’s recommended that parents avoid digital media use, except video chatting in children younger than 18-24 months old.
- Infants are more vulnerable to screen addiction than teens because it’s so gratifying.
- Parents need to participate with their infants and children when they use technology.
- Teens brains release dopamine which has a pivotal role in cravings and desires that promotes compulsive social media usage to gain good feelings, suggesting the potential for addiction.
- An I-Phone should be a tool that you use—not a tool that uses you!
Cyberbullying is a form of aggressive harassment that is unprovoked and repeatedly directed toward another child, teen, or group of kids. It may inflict physical, psychological, social, or educational harm. Busy parents will be comforted if their school on or offline has a policy to immediately manage incipient cyberbullying quickly and effectively to give help not only to the victim but to the confused perpetrator.
If your child is cyberbullied here are some recommendations:
- Make sure your child is, and remains, safe.
- Solicit your child’s perspective as to what he would like to see happen.
- Collect evidence.
- Keep detailed records of what happened, where it happened, and who might have witnessed the incident.
- Contact the school to make them aware of the situation.
- Contact the police if physical threats, stalking, coercion, blackmail, or sexually explicit pictures or videos of minors are involved.
- Help kids learn how important it is not to retaliate but involve empathic adults who will help them resolve the situation. Targeted youth need to realize they are not to blame and that no one deserves to be harassed in any environment.
- Help kids keep from dwelling on hurtful words they know are false and only said to inflame emotions, promote controversy, conflict and drama. Cultivating resiliency is vital to relational success not only in adulthood but also in childhood.
Discussing Technology Usage with Teens
Reasonable rules and restrictions collaboratively decided upon by the parent and teen develop an understanding of what the teen wants and what is expected of him or her. The push and pull between teen and parent help the teen define themselves. Teens rebel less when they know their parent’s motives and intentions and when they feel their parents listen to their points of view with respect.
When technology usage is part of education, rules can be devised, limits set, and achievements expected that fit the teen’s development. Then the teens tolerate frustration, are empathic of others, and form enduring parent-child and peer relationships.
The Use of Smartphones
Phone usage started too early can be addictive and lead to isolation a concern during the COVID situation. Kids today are tech-wise and know they can go online with their phone, not only call and text others. The use of FaceTime is a big plus these days because then there is more personal contact among peers.
The Parental Intelligence Way
Using The Parental Intelligence Way, parents collaborate with their kids to make decisions about the use of phones and technology. The five steps outlined on this website (https://lauriehollmanphd.com/books/unlocking-parental-intelligence/) help parents and kids of all ages communicate effectively and calmly as they solve various problems about tech usage. Ultimately parents and kids discuss their different points and view and feel pleased with their joint decisions. Sometimes roles get reversed when kids know more about the technology than their folks, which raises their kids self-esteem all by itself because they are respected as experts.