Friday, April 02, 2010
Child Psychiatrist: iPad can be good for kids and families
Apple's new iPad adds a universe of new applications on a large accessible touch screen that include books, games, business tools, newspapers, presentation managers, a word processor. "You feel like you're holding the Web right in your hand," according to Apple.
This tablet is a serious tool for serious people. Before bringing it home, every parent must think through its impact on the kids and family life because the iPad also puts unprecedented interactive media power into children's hands. Mobile, tactile, responsive, and intensely user friendly, the kid-size large screen sparkles with sharp colorful images and text. "The iPad is the magical stuff kids (and the kids in us all) dream of as beautiful images can be instantly enlarged, shrunk, moved or made to appear and disappear," according to child psychiatrist and author Dr. Eitan Schwarz.
"It is a brilliant piece of engineering and testament to our human talent. Such technology can be great: Fathers, mothers, grandparents, teachers, therapists, pediatricians – we can all use new technologies to enhance families' health and young children's development."
"But in the 10+ years of media explosion into the lives of younger and younger children, there has been little systematic effort to guide parents. Once the hoopla is over, things are not so good. Kids left to themselves consume media as they do junk food. Too many parents will gee-whiz the wonders of the iPad, react to children's demands, or feel inadequate or overwhelmed," according to Dr. Schwarz.
The more media permeates a home, the more family life deteriorates and the kids are less happy. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 1/5 of kids 8-18 spend up to 19 hrs/d (including texting and multitasking) total media time. Studies show that media use is associated with poorer grades and family life and less reading and imaginative play. When parents set limits for 1/3 of youngsters, media consumption drops by only 1/3, showing that restriction is just not enough.
"To actually benefit from digital media, parents must become confident, pro-active and take charge, get involved, and make thoughtful and deliberate ongoing commitments to media planning in their home for both the short and long terms."
In his new book, Kids, Parents, and Technology: An Instruction Guide for Young Families
, Dr. Schwarz, gives parents tips to leverage their home-court advantage to make media a positive family life asset. "Parents should manage children's media consumption as they do a meal plan." Schwarz believes there needs to be "an ongoing commitment to organizing kids' media lives just as we manage nutrition."
Schwarz's tips for parents include:
• The iPad is a Powerful Appliance
- Start thinking of the iPad as a family appliance that must have positive values. Kids treat will treat it as toy, but the iPad is in reality an adult tool 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.
• Take Charge
- Have confidence and take charge. You can manage this important area of your kids' lives. 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?
• 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. Always join preschoolers or younger kids using the iPad.
• Include the Whole Family
- Create a new environment around the iPad and other media to promote mutuality, fun, respect, and development for the entire family. It is large enough for kids and parents to interact around it. • Make the iPad a Positive Learning Tool
- Just as you already shop for healthy food, harvest the positive opportunities offered by its apps and online. For example, for every age group there are wonderful opportunities for learning. • Create Healthy Media Rules
- Tailor healthy media diets into daily menus for each child to provide development opportunities. For example, regularly require enough online time on apps and online that enhance good values and education enrichment. Apply rules to your own media use – be fully present with your kids, and do not text while parenting. Kids, Parents & Technology: An Instruction Guide for Young Families
, a new book by Dr. Eitan Schwarz, the expert and seasoned Chicago child psychiatrist, is now available through www.mydigitalfamily.org
. RESOURCES: http://www.apple.com/ipad/guided-tours/ http://www.upi.com/Daily-Briefing/2010/04/02/iPad-release/UPI-26041270212979/ http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia030905pkg.cfm ABOUT THE AUTHOR Eitan D. Schwarz, MD FAACA DLFAPA
is a doctor who knows kids, media, and families. He is board-certified in both general and child and adolescent psychiatry. During his nearly 40 years of distinguished practice and teaching in a variety of public, private, and academic settings, Dr. Schwarz has been steadily learning about the needs of children and families. Since medical school at Johns Hopkins, he has also been studying the uses of technology in health care and the practice of medicine. Currently on the faculty of Northwestern University, he has recently researched the use of digital media in play therapy with children. See www.mydigitalfamily.org. E-MAIL: Dr.Schwarz@mydigitalfamily.org
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