Family gatherings: Face-to-face or face-to-screen?

How comfortable are your kids talking to extended family and adult friends? One concern I often hear from parents is that they think screen time decreases face-to-face communication skills. I have not found any exceptional data around this issue. Families and friends will be together for the holidays and in these settings many kids and adults will gravitate towards their personal devices. When situations are uncomfortable or activity is slowed down this is accepted behavior these days. It upsets me when I see kids disappear into their screens when those special multigenerational opportunities for conversation are right in front of them.

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Do you know how much time parents spend playing video games?

How much time do you, the adult, spend on screens?  This week Common Sense Media (CSM) released the results of a survey of 1800 parents that found that parents spend 7.5 hours a day of non-work time on screens, and 1.5 hours a day of work related screen time.  (Of note, if a respondent reported doing two screen things at once, such as watching TV while texting, the study counted that as two hours). Seven and a half hours is a lot, but if you include all the time parents are watching TV shows, *playing video games, doing social media, or on their phones while eating breakfast, while walking down the street, sitting on subways ... you can see how this adds up. 

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13 NON-tech holiday gift ideas

Today I heard from a parent that their 11-year old boy just saw Screenagers for the second time and then he took the XBOX off of his Christmas list. Sometimes kids resist the message in Screenagers, but we often hear about teens that connected and were truly moved. Here are some NON-tech gift ideas for your teens this holiday season—be sure to pass this on to grandparents to get them on the same page:

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    How much are your kids going on their cellphone at school?

    NBC's Today Show ran a piece this week where 10th grade students at a school in Tumwater, Washington watched Screenagers and then had the chance to do a one-week digital detox and be filmed for TV. Only some kids agreed to do it and the results were unexpected. Watch this with your kids! My kids thought it was really well done.

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    Who knows the family screen time rules?

    When my daughter Tessa, who is in Screenagers, saw the completed film, I was shocked by one of her first reactions. She said, ”I didn't realize so many other kids are dealing with all this rule stuff like we are." Of course, she had been with me over the years as I was making the film, and yet somehow, she did not know how common it is for families to struggle with setting limits. She went on to tell me how rarely any of her friends talked about their rules around screen time. 

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    Is there a time and a place you unplug each day? Each week?

    With Thanksgiving this week, it is a good time to think about the various practices of “unplugging." 

    To help find times to unplug, a good starting point is to think more about when our kids are not on screens during each day, rather than when they are on screens. From there it's easier to set guidelines around unplugging. I’ve heard about many creative approaches to unplugging:

     

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      How can you use this election as a way to talk to your kids about bullying?

      Candidates have used screens for good and for evil this election. They've used it to bully as well as to inspire.  Talking to your kids about this issue is a great way to open up the conversation about how they define bullying. Talk your teens today about how they, and you, used social media, polling data and other ways to get engaged and informed about the election this year.
       

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      Sleep: Is this one time you can separate from your phone?

      Tech Talk Tuesday #39
      Does your teen sleep next to his/her phone?

      A new meta analysis published in Jama Pediatrics confirmed how portable devices like cellphones and tablets are seriously affecting our children's sleep.  Sleep is one of the biggest pediatric public health issues of our time. I hear this firsthand when I ask groups in the post screening discussions "who sleeps with their cellphones their room?" Most hands in the room go up.

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      Pediatricians have new screen time guidelines... what are yours?

      Tech Talk Tuesday #38
      What are your rules when it comes to your kid's screen use?

      This week the American Academy of Pediatrics released new recommendations on screen time.  

      They now recommend that children younger than 18 months “avoid digital media use (except video-chatting),” but kids 18 months and older can use digital media. They also say that children 2 to 5 years should limit their time to one hour a day and for youth 5 years and older they now don't really have a recommended cap on screen time.

       

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      New Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatics...we weigh in

      The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just changed its recommendation of screen use for children. They now recommend that children younger than 18 months “avoid digital media use (except video-chatting),” but kids 18 months and older can use digital media. They also say that children 2 to 5 years should limit their time to one hour a day and for youth 5 years and older they now don't really have a recommended cap on screen time. 

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      Delaney Ruston, MD
      How many "Snapstreaks" does your teen have going?

      Tech Talk Tuesday #35
      Does your teen have any "Snapstreaks" currently?

      Do you know what Streaks are?  Snapchat has something they call Snapstreaks that count the consecutive days you send a Snap to the same person. My daughter has some Snapstreaks that are more than 200 days long. To keep a "streak" going both people must send a Snap back-and-forth within 24 hours.

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      How to talk to your kids about sexting...

      Tech Talk Tuesday #33
      Do you talk to your kids about sexting?

      A recent article in the Washington Post about sexting and a podcast called Note to Self got me thinking about the subject. “Sexting” is the exchange of sexually explicit images between minors (17 years or younger) via tech, usually cells phones.  A study from 2012 found that roughly 20% of U.S. adolescents between 13 and 19 reported having sent, or posted, a nude or semi-nude photo of themselves, and 28% said they received a sext message intended for someone else. 

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      Cellphones at school, what are the rules?

      Tech Talk Tuesday #32
      What is a phone's role at school?

      My daughter is in 9th grade in a junior high, and my son in the high school, and it seems every year they, and I, are not entirely clear on the rules at school around cellphones. Tessa tells me that one teacher has a zero tolerance policy. On the first day he told them that if he catches them with a phone, he will put it on his desk—In this first week, he has not confiscated one during her class.  Another “more chill” (in Tessa’s words) teacher says if you finish your work you can be on your phone. He added that there are “appropriate times to be on your phone and non-appropriate times.”  I’m eager to have a Tech Talk Tuesday tonight with my kids about how this is all working...the different rules, their desire to check their phones versus their need to pay attention, etc. 

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      Homework and screen time, what's the plan this year?

      Tech Talk Tuesday #31
      How do you balance homework and screentime?

      Screen time and homework can be a real problem. Our children often need screens to do their homework and then are automatically vulnerable to distraction when they need concentration the most. Famous research out of Stanford showed that when people multitask they feel as if they are doing better and better at the different tasks but actually they are doing worse and worse on all of them. 

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