All of us, kids and adults alike, have a fundamental need for regular breaks from the Ping Pong-like distractions of digital stimuli… Our ideas and imaginations begin to flow as we experience true, uninterrupted downtime from our digital lives.James P. Steyer
While kids may no longer be on Facebook, and state legislatures across the country are considering new protections, the same old rules around digital
When my husband and I were raising younger children 10 years ago, I relied heavily on Common Sense Media. My girls knew the reviews and age ratings there helped me decide what they could and couldn’t watch. While standing my ground was never easy, the deciding part was not as difficult.
While the title, Talking Back to Facebook, feels dated, the advice from James P. Steyer, the founder of Common Sense Media, still rings true. Based on his observations and summaries of early research, he details how digital media impacts the relationships, attention, and privacy of our youth…and us adults, too.
We have to teach them to understand the media messages they receive and how to use the technology platforms at their fingertips in responsible, productive ways. We can’t shield kids completely from all the images and messages that confront them, so it’s vital to give them tools and values to help filter those messages successfully and make good common sense judgments.
That’s a good reminder for me, too. I spend way too much time searching for the “perfect” digital tool, hoping that it will make life easier, or better, shave off time or provide shortcuts. I’ll forget that the same tool might tie me to my computer a little longer or make me pick up my phone more often.
When he first wrote his book, Steyer was careful to note that the research wasn’t yet conclusive. But, most researchers have since reached a consensus that it’s best to hold off on giving kids under the age of 16 unrestricted access to smartphones and the Internet. (Here’s a good overview from Cal Newport, a computer scientist and author of Digital Minimalism and Deep Work among others.) So, once again, his same old rules still apply.
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