Sunday, February 14, 2016

Technology and the Single Parent

Recent Medical Studies Reveal the Importance of Children Taking a Break From Their Electronic Devices and Communicating the Old Fashioned Way

Being a parent is hard, being a single working parent is harder.  The plethora of new technological devices has been a god-send for many parents, married and single alike.  Children can occupy themselves for hours on end with their mobile devices, tablets, computers and, of course, the ageless television.  After a long day of work, it is easy to leave children to their own devices and scarcely a word may be heard from them when they are occupied with their technology.

But according to a study published in December by the Journal of American Medicine, electronic toys hinder verbal development.  But most parents can tell you that without the benefit of a scientific study.  As cell phone use has become almost universal among teenagers and pre-teens in this country, so too has texting become a dominant form of communication among young people, if not the dominant form.  Young people seldom pick up the phone and actually talk to each other anymore, they text instead.  And the effect on verbal communication has been dramatic.  Car pool a minivan of teenagers and the car will often be deathly quiet save the clatter of thumbs against phones.  But the kids are communicating with each other in the car, just not verbally.

And as the JAMA study points out, the impact the use of mobile devices has on verbal development does not bode well for our children or their educational development.  Hard as it may be, separating our children from their electronic devices may be an important step for improving their verbal skills and educational development.  Success in school and improved social development may hinge upon our children spending less time on their mobile devices and more time reading, studying and engaging in actual verbal communications with you, their family, friends and third parties.  A nightly break from the stresses of social media can only improve their psychological development as well.  As most parents who are tied to office e-mail 24 x 7 can tell you, it is nice to get a break from the demands of the office and clients occasionally.  A nightly separation from mobile devices can provide that benefit to our children.

While adopting limits on technology usage by your children may be difficult, and even more so for single parents, it appears to be extremely important for their verbal and social development as well as their long term success. 

Text that to your kids.

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