3 Things Parents Need to Know Now About Kids and Tech
Whatever your view of tech’s impact on our children, here are commonsense rules we can all follow
Recent social science research has parents concerned about whether deep immersion in digital technologies is bad for their children.
A variety of studies find that rates of teen anxiety, depression, and self-harm have risen since 2012, in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, although the evidence that this rise was caused by smartphones and social media is hotly debated.
It may take another decade for researchers to reach agreement, but parents need guidance now if their kids are to develop a healthy relationship with technology.
To limit or not to limit, that is the question many parents are asking. The question has become even more pressing during the Covid-19 pandemic as children spend more time indoors and on their devices.
We are participants in the debate, and we are to some extent on opposing sides. Jonathan Haidt’s 2018 book points to social media as one major cause of the corrosive Coddling of the American Mind.
Meanwhile, Nir Eyal’s most recent book concludes that tech overuse is a symptom, not the cause of the problem. In Indistractable, he implores parents to understand the deeper reasons kids seek to escape through digital distractions.
Though we have different opinions on the effects of technology use, one thing we have in common is our role as fathers to energetic gadget-loving preteens.
In fact, we first met each other at an event in New York City’s Washington Square Park, where we staged a spontaneous public debate over the effects of smartphones on kids while our daughters ran off to play.
When we stopped debating the studies and asked each other what we actually did in our own households, we found we abided by nearly identical principles.
Here we offer three commonsense, research-supported approaches for helping kids learn to control their use of technology instead of letting it control them.