Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Kids, Parents & Technology

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Review - Kids, Parents & Technology

About the Book
Younger and younger children are now in charge of how they consume media, and they are mostly consuming junk. Surveys show that older kids spend over 50 hours a week and growing. Family interactions, imaginative play, and grades drop when media increase.

Excessive consumption can cause emotional difficulties, as well as result from existing ones. Children need the thoughtful, active and positive guidance of their parents in this amazing Wild-West tech environment. Merely restricting access is just not enough.

In his new book, Kids, Parents and Technology: A Guide for Young Families, Dr. Eitan Schwarz suggests a family media plan that involves a certain amount of time each week with home media that adds to family relationships, socialization, values education, education enrichment, and entertainment.

Dr. Schwarz recommends that parents begin when children are infants, gradually decreasing their supervision and participation as the children age. For every age group, there is a world of fun Internet sites and electronic games that contribute to a child’s development. His book is a roadmap that is carefully designed to enable parents who feel inadequate and guilty about the place of home media so they can become effective and empowered. Here are some of the helpful ideas he offers up

  • Take Charge – Have confidence and take charge. You can manage this important area of your kids lives. You have the home-court advantage. Many parents too readily take a back seat and let kids take the lead. In what other important area of life would they let that happen?

  • Media are Appliances – Start thinking of media as family appliances that must have positive values. Kids treat media as toys, but they are in fact adult tools with enormous power. Would you let your unsupervised young child use the telephone or oven? Only devices with proven benefits belong in children’s hands.

  • Technology is Healthy – From infancy onwards, teach kids to appreciate technology as a healthy and routine part of family life. Starting young, children will learn that using technology is collaborative and social — and not an isolating solitary activity.

  • Include the Whole Family – Create a new environment around the online family computer and other media to promote mutuality, fun, respect, and development for the entire family. Moving the home computer away from the wall and arranging seating all around it will make it a popular center for family life.

  • Make Media a Positive Learning Tool – Just as you already shop for healthy food, harvest the positive opportunities offered by media. For example, for every age group there are wonderful Internet sites that offer a world of learning entertainment experiences.

  • Create Healthy Media Plans – Like you do meal plans, tailor media use into daily menus for each child to provide Growth Opportunities. For example, regularly require enough online time on activities that enhance good values and education enrichment.

The explosive use of home computers and other technology-based consumer media—some intended for children as young as six months—has parents concerned about the impact of computers, video games, smart phones and other interactive media on their children’s development, family life, and social relationships. The Illinois psychiatrist states that the family-based approach – empowering and educating parents and giving them good tools to manage kids’ media consumption – can complement many of the aims of the child advocacy communities, the media industries, and the legislative and policy initiatives currently being discussed.

Parents need to focus on the educational value of home technology, says family and child psychiatrist Eitan D. Schwarz, M.D., also known to his patients as Dr. S. They should plan their children’s use of the media for growth and development opportunities just as they plan meals for nutrition and health.  And, just as they should share dinners together, they should spend time together with interactive media.

Recognizing the educational power of audio and visual devices, Dr. Schwarz conveys his messages through a series of videos—some for parents, some for children—on his website,

About the Author
Dr. Eitan Schwarz has been a practicing psychiatrist serving families and their children for nearly 40 years. He is a graduate of Cornell and Johns Hopkins Medical School.  He has been head of the child and adolescent psychiatric division at Evanston Hospital and is currently on the faculty of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

My Take on the Book
This book was more than just a book, it is laid out as a complete resource that will assist any parent in helping their child to be technology savvy as well as helping parents to understand the impact that media has on their children and what they can do to make it easier in maneuvering through the pitfalls that can be parenting in this digital age.

I loved each chapter and how it was laid out. With down to earth examples, any parent will be able to take things from this book and will be able to implement the strategies easily.

One of the best features is that it lays out how to create a Family Media Plan. This plan allows you to be proactive in a society that is overrun with media and I know that my family will be enacting one for ourselves!

Overall, this book was a thoughtful, sensible, guide for parents seeking to manage media for their children! 

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.
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1 comment:

Marla said...

Great write up. You've inspired me to get the book! I really like the idea of the family media plan and look forward to examining it.
Author: Digital Manners & House Rules: A Handbook for Parents