The world of media is changing rapidly and it may seem as though kids are constantly viewing a screen of one kind or another. New games, educational apps and videos are published daily. It's a challenge to keep up with the media your child consumes, yet important to monitor.
I'm a middle school library media specialist and a parent. I am immersed in technology all day long and my job is to help kids and teachers use technology in targeted learning. In spite of all the many benefits I see with the tech we use now and will likely use in the future, I also see a line that has been crossed in the increasing length and frequency of screen use throughout the day and night.
How big of a problem is this for developing brains? How much media consumption is healthy? What are the long-term effects? We get mixed messages from researchers and society about these issues, and in this website I'll try to help sort fact from fiction. You'll also find practical resources that you can begin to incorporate into your parenting right away.
There are voices increasingly raising critical questions about round-the-clock media use. Yet, here's the new functional norm in many communities: kids glued to a screen before school, at school, after school, in the evenings and all the way up to bedtime and beyond.
Does this sound like your family? Let me ask a question - is your kid immersed in screens all day and yet still craving MORE? My kids are too.
The goal at the middle level is to help your child become gradually more responsible for their own wise media use. Yet we know that kids don't develop these skills on auto-pilot. It happens through setting clear expectations, sticking to daily routines and having open conversations about their experiences with the variety of media they encounter day-to-day.
Yes, it's a different ballgame navigating media use at the middle level. You're going to get some complaints. Maybe a lot of complaints. But, you have greater influence than you think, even with kids age twelve and beyond. So maybe you take the changes slow, but not so slow that you lose momentum. Set a new norm in your house. Post a schedule on the fridge and stick to it. Have discussions about why screen limits are important.
An important piece of supporting wise media use is to also provide screen-free experiences for children and teens to explore. You and your child might be surprised by the benefits of this unplugged time. Studies have shown that regular hands-on activities without a screen result in greater concentration, improved relationships and happier kids overall. Don't believe me? Try the 30-day challenge (coming soon: sign up for email alerts to the Info Literacy Teacher and I'll let you know when I share the details! )and see for yourself! It's time to unplug.
To help you provide a balanced life which uses technology and media more strategically, I've compiled some resources to get a reality check on media use. Here you'll find some parent-friendly resources to help you and your family make decisions about the quality of media and technology in your child's life. It won't be easy. Video games, for example, are intentionally designed to be addictive.
I can promise you that if you stick to an intentional plan to balance screen time with other enriching experiences in your family's life, you will be happier for it.
Grades 6-8 Social/Emotional Resources
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