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How Much Tech Can Kids Take? 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the cybernetic-implants-are-unsuitable-for-infants dept.
Barence writes "Are today's children facing technology overload, or simply gearing themselves up for life in a digital world? This article examines the effects of exposing children to technology at a young age. Researchers warn of the potential dangers of too much 'screen time,' pointing to alarming (some say scaremongering) research that suggests over-exposure leads to an increased risk of developing autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Educators, meanwhile, highlight how technology can improve interaction between child and parent, and provide essential life skills, such as enhanced communication and multitasking. Parents are left with conflicting messages — but how much technology is too much technology for children?"
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How Much Tech Can Kids Take?

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  • Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:11PM (#38129576)

    It all comes down to common sense. It has never been said that raising children should be easy.

  • by Pastor Jake (2510522) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:13PM (#38129614)

    Friends,

    Our children are being exposed to the trash on the internet at younger and younger ages, and it is time to stop. Their bodies grow to unhealthy weights while their moral compasses shrivel. We must restrict their access to technology until they are old enough to handle it. Thankfully, our dual-party system has come together to propose government filtering of the internet in the form of SOPA. This will help parents who are too tech-illiterate to shield their kids from the dangers of the internet.

    Your Brother,
    Jake

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:15PM (#38129634)

    How much tech can a tech kid take, if a tech kid can take tech?

    Well they would take as much tech as a tech kid takes, if a tech kid can take tech!

  • by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:16PM (#38129644) Homepage Journal

    I'm not terribly worried. My kid is 8. She's a gamer. She loves getting email from grandma. And if she spends too much time in front of the screen, she eventually will get up and find a friend to play with. She's had her own PC since she was 3. She also plays softball, soccer, and chess. Generally, she only resorts to the tv or computer when she can't find a friend. She's an only child, so this is somewhat of a concern, but so far, hasn't been a problem.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:31PM (#38129854)

      She's had her own PC since she was 3. She also plays softball, soccer, and chess.

      And I think that is the silver bullet right there. It's not so much a case of "technology is baaaaadddd!" but rather all things are good in moderation. This means it is excellent for kids to have some exposure to technology as this is a wonderful way to learn logical thinking and problem solving, but these two things alone do not make a person. Children need social interaction, and this means spending time with parents, siblings or other children and interacting with them. This will give them many other valuable life skills that they need.

      When I was young, I was programming at the age of ten, but at the same time, my parents in their wisdom limited my time in front of the PC (okay, Amiga at the time) and I spent a lot of time with my father, with neighbourhood kids and doing simple things like taking the dog for a walk - or my favorite passtime back then, reading. I am very glad that I had access to technology from that young age, it has gave me the foundation that I have built my career on, but I am also very grateful that I wasn't allowed to utterly sink into my own little PC world. I see a lot of programmers or other IT professionals who are much better at what they do than I would be, but they lack the social skills to be able to truly thrive in the workplace. I think that due to these shortcomings many of these folks are doomed to live out the stereotypes that shows like the IT Crowd love to mock (in a nice way).

      • Children need social interaction

        That depends on whether they want it or not (and, as far as I know, social interaction isn't absolutely necessary for anyone). "Valuable" is subjective.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:50PM (#38130094)

          That depends on whether they want it or not (and, as far as I know, social interaction isn't absolutely necessary for anyone). "Valuable" is subjective.

          Being that humans are natually social beings (things like "cabin fever" erupt without it), it is essential.

          Now, the question is whether face to face interaction is necessary to be social, or one can be social through technology (email, social sites, video/voice/text chat) remains to be answered. I'm guessing the answer is "everything in moderation". Some face to face is essential, because there will always be face to face interactions - even if it's just with the mailman for a package, and there may be times one is thrust into needing to interact, so proper behaviour and expectations in such situations is a necessity. (E.g., if you desire to have a family. Or maybe you need to ask for help with some task, or broke down at the side of the street and need to call a tow truck).

          Those who don't seek social interaction are known as recluse, and there's a reason why there's a negative connotation associated with the term.

          Hell, the act of reading and writing posts on /. is a social activity.

        • by hedwards (940851) on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:29PM (#38130502)

          You're right it depends, do you want the kid to be socially crippled or not. It's getting harder and harder to find jobs that don't require one to play well with others. Hell, even engineers, those bastions of social interaction, are being expected to work on teams for most projects.

          I don't personally like it, but it's reality, if you've kids that are socially inept their earning power and quality of life is going to reflect that.

        • by Bucky24 (1943328) on Monday November 21, 2011 @09:10PM (#38131228)
          I can't cite anything to confirm this but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that children NEED social interaction, regardless if they want it. Though playing any multiplayer game, being a chatroom, or posting in a thread on a forum probably all count as social interaction too. Just because they don't go outside doesn't mean they aren't socializing.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think that was NewWorldDan's point at the end, that [technology] hasn't been a problem for his daughter. Perhaps you couldn't self regulate as a child and it's good that your parents' intervened, but that isn't true for everyone.

        I must wonder why those other programmers are the way they are and if it really is because of what you assume? For some, sure. They've got their computer and they don't need anything else. For others, perhaps they had no other choice? It does happen. Perhaps their parents pushed t

    • by cheeks5965 (1682996) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:45PM (#38130024)

      And if she spends too much time in front of the screen, she eventually will get up and find a friend to play with.

      That's so sad... I hope that eventually she finds a friend.

    • As a techie and a parent with ADD I am a little more concerned. There are strong reasons to think that TV time is linked to ADD, and I don't see why computers would be different.

      Indeed I have been using redshift on my Linux laptop now for a bit over a week and have found my own ADD greatly helped by the software's color shifting, suggesting to me that the color balance (too much blue in particular) may be partly to blame. We already know this affects other parts of the human brain and can affect sleep. H

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My cousin is 7. She too has had a computer of her own since she was 3 (a used pink iMac at the time). She too is a young gamer. She has access to an Xbox 360 and a Wii, and has her own DS and Alienware M11x laptop. I take particular pride in that latter device, having come up with the idea and played an instrumental role in convincing the grandparents we share, other cousins, my parents, my own siblings, etc. to contribute. She plays Sims 2 and Sims 3 as could be expected for a girl her age, but she also pl

  • Kids is too broad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spopepro (1302967) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:17PM (#38129660)
    Researchers have known for years that there are certain windows of brain development where learning is best supported, and how other activities aren't so helpful. Language acquisition and music have their sweet spot right around 3-6 years of age. It is likely that the skills that using tech best supports are much later in the development of childrens' minds (like logic, problem solving). It shouldn't be surprising that early childhood subjects only use tech as entertainment, and learn little from it. But children, of age 10 or so, can benefit greatly from having exposure to tech in an interactive manner. This is supported by places like Finland, where they don't teach "hard" subjects or tech in early childhood, but rather stress movement, creative play and social interaction at school, leaving other subjects for when they are most appropriate.
  • by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:18PM (#38129670)
    Who says kids have to be either overloaded by technology or wisely preparing for the future? How about a third option, like, kids aren't overloaded, they're fine, but they aren't necessarily "preparing", they're just doing what is fun and what is practical. They're KIDS, relax! Just let them play. Luddites need to calm down.

    Does Television cause Autism? Everybody used to be so in arms about letting kids watch too much TV, it'll rot their brains out. Now we grew up and we all watch TV, but ooh, videogames and the internet will rot your brain! Its just society adapting to itself as always, you've got the early-adopters and you've got the naysayers.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:26PM (#38129788)

      My single concern is that there's lots of research that says the best thing kids can do to improve success later on in life is what is known as "undirected play" (a.k.a. recess). I doubt the play has to be physical in nature, but I suspect to see the benefits you want activities that allow kids to decide on their own (or as a group) who to play with, how to play, where to play, and what the rules are. These are not things that today's games are generally good at, ironically and especially true in the 'kids' games genres.

      • TFA isn't just about kids playing videogames though, they're talking about all technology in general. The internet, iPads, iPods, iPhones, etc. I'll agree that videogames do have a way to go, but the majority of AAA video games are aimed at the 18-30 male market, not kids. (contrary to popular belief?) Because Nintendo targets children more, they've always been hesitant to include online multiplayer and have been the slowest to adapt. The games industry just needs better multiplayer experiences for children
    • by GrpA (691294) on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:07PM (#38130310)

      Actually, being online helped my child *with Autism*...

      The computer provides a safe and effective way for him to interact with other people and stimulate his mind. Having access to a computer at all times since he was about 3 has been a huge help to him and is one of the reason he is now diagnosed as "no longer needing assistance". It has taught him to spell well and helped him with communication skills which was an area in which he was seriously affected.

      The people behind this research seem to have an agenda to push and the article does not examine any links between autism and technology at all - it just says technology causes it...

      I'm surprised the magazine behind the OP printed these views at all. I guess even PC magazines have reached "Tabloid" status in the UK. :(

      GrpA

      • I'll second this.

        Autism is about someone hyper-focusing on some subset of the world "out of proportion to its value". Notice the sly difference between employable expert and that! If you hyper-focus on tax depreciation theory, you are Employable. If you hyper-focus on the Misfits of Science show and know which actors sadly passed early afterward, you are labeled Autistic.

        Wikipedia might just be the single greatest Anti-Autism device, because it tends to "go up levels" as well as answer the questions. So 2 h

    • I think "don't worry, it's all OK" is a bigger problem than panic among geeks right now. Television has had an effect on at least two generations of children: look at the difference in the kind of academic rigor that could be expected of children before the television age with those after. All the use of these media technologies during core developmental years is essentially a huge, uncontrolled experiment on children.

      If you look at the people who succeed in our society, it's generally those whose parents k

      • There's no way you can attribute generations of cultural change entirely to the technology of the television. That is ludicrous. A WHOLE LOT of other things happened too, ya know.

        If you look at the people who succeed in our society, it's generally those whose parents kept them away from a lot of this technology in those core years.

        [citation required]. I would love to see ANY data on this, whatsoever. Are you talking about people like Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Steve Wozniak, or.. ANYBODY? They were immensely successful, and hey, they all used computers at a young age! So, I call shenanigans, sir.

      • by russotto (537200)

        I think "don't worry, it's all OK" is a bigger problem than panic among geeks right now. Television has had an effect on at least two generations of children: look at the difference in the kind of academic rigor that could be expected of children before the television age with those after.

        Yeah, kids nowadays, they've never heard of "post hoc ergo propter hoc".

  • Many Factors (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:20PM (#38129716) Homepage Journal
    Made up ailments aside (Yes, I believe ADHD, along with a host of other "new diseases," are totally nonexistent and serve only to fatten the wallets of the healthcare industry fatcats by getting humans hooked on their products as early as possible, thus creating entire generations of addicted "customers"), one would have to weigh the individual pro's and con's, and come up with their own determination.

    Personally, I would not let my kids (if I had any) spend their entire existence in front of some sort of screen, allowing corporations to raise my kids for me. Of course, when it comes to education I can see certain advantages over the technology (or lack thereof) used back in my day; kids could be reading the latest history as it is being made, as opposed to textbooks that still refer to Reagan as the sitting President. But again, that goes back to the whole 'corporate control' issue; who decides what goes into a history etextbook? Actual, educated historians, or the salespeople and marketers at Houghton-Mifflin?
    • back in my days in school, the books referred to Edward Heath as British PM... this was the Eighties. Just a TAD out of date.

    • Re:Many Factors (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:44PM (#38130606)

      I'd really be interested in hearing your "ADHD doesn't exist" argument. Because you've obviously never dealt with anyone with it and obviously don't have it yourself.

      I find the suggestion that computer time 'causes' ADHD laughable because it's a difference in brain chemistry. Amphetamines calm us down. I met a guy that when he was 'up' would take a small hit of meth and sit down and paint. Alcohol makes me hyper. Amphetamines settle me down. Long before there was a computer in our house my mom knew she had to watch what she gave me.

      The main argument against ADHD is "Well duh. I can obviously pay attention to stuff I like." Yes. I can easily app attention to something I like. I can go into a piece of code or a project and come out 12 hours later having not moved, eaten or done anything but what I threw my self into. The problem with the ADHD brain is you can't relax.

      Since this is /., I'll probably catch some trollols "OMG U TUCH GURL!" But this is the most apt example I can come up with: If I'm giving a back massage or concentrating on actually DOING something. I can pay attention no problem. The problem comes when it's my turn to relax. It doesn't happen. Sure the return back massage feels great but, what was that last piece of code I was working on How od you calculate the sum of squares in a graeco-latin experiment design I wonder how I can implement that on my TI-89. I wonder if there is anything like this matlab function in the TI-89. I'll probably have to write my own. TI-89 what a shitty calculator. It came out in 1998 In 1998 my cellphone sucked and my android does so much more Why doesn't TI update their product line. Oh crap getting back massage try to relax, relax, why can't I relax, oh yeah that stats test. Stats is such an easy class what class am I taking next semester. Next semester do I have enough money to cover it. All in the span of a minute or two.

      Cleaning the house doesn't get done because my mind jumps like that. "Oh, this be longs in the garage" Go to the garage. Start to put it away and find in the garage that needs to go somewhere. Eventually bouncing around the entire house doing 'nothing' and putting away small stuff.

      If I'm with my girlfriend and we're talking about something in the car I can be 5-10 subjects away when I break the silence a minute later and say something and get some odd looks. Because she assumes we're still talking about the one thing we were talking about or something very similar. Hell in the time it's taken me to finally write this post I've opened 20 Fark tabs, read those topics. Started responses in those threads. Opened a few XBMC Forum threads. Put those in another window. Checked my bank statements and still have 2 dozen tabs open. Put the Chili in the fridge. Found something in the fridge I wanted to reheat. Put it in the microwave. Got distracted waiting for it to finish and started laundry.

      When I'm on my meds it's a noticeable difference. I'll start in one corner of a room and knock it out like it's nothing. I'll write posts in one response. I can sit down and do ONE thing to completion or near completion. And I didn't have a computer in the house until High School. I made it through college all on my own. I finally went to the family doctor at 27 and got on Welbutrin. It's not an amphetamine and they're not really sure why it works for ADHD, but I can tell you it's made a big difference in my life at home and at work.

      So fuck you and everyone else who thinks its made up. Why not go around the old folks home and yell at the alzheimers patients about their 'made up disease'

      • Gah. If ever there's something that deserves +5, Informative, it is this. The only thing worse than the people who think some 5 year old kid running around during recess has ADHD are the people who think that everyone is exactly like they are, and ADHD is just a made-up "disease".

      • Re:Many Factors (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xaria (630117) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:18PM (#38130834)

        I support the above post.

        I have a six year old son with ADHD, and sadly I had no choice but to put him on medication. Do I like it? No, of course not. Was it the right choice? I definitely believe so. He was failing PREP. Yes ... the very first year of school, and he was failing because he couldn't focus. He was also highly disruptive in class and ended up spending several hours per week in the school office. However, all the teachers love him because he's a very sweet little boy (their words, not mine). A lot of people believe that ADHD medication (such as Ritalin) is a sedative - it's not, it's a stimulant. It's equivalent to a couple of cups of strong coffee. The problem is that people with ADHD have had their brains develop such that they cannot focus on certain inputs to the exclusion of others as most people can. Try standing in the middle of a room at a party or a night club, and talk to the person with you. Most people can manage it. Someone with ADHD and no medication finds it incredibly difficult to remain focused on the conversation, because they can also hear the other conversations in the room, and the music, and the person clinking a glass together in the neighbouring kitchen. All at once, and without the inherent ability to exclude unwanted inputs. The purpose of Ritalin is to speed up the brain so that the ADHD person can get all those inputs and actually process them.

        It's actually genetic. My brother has ADD too. He's a successful masseuse now because it's a single task, in a quiet room, that can keep his attention. Don't ever ask him to hold a ladder for you because he'll wander off to look at a butterfly by the time you get to the top (yep, this actually happened when he was 21).

        Autism seems to be related, though they don't know how. I have an autistic child too, and that's a whole other ballgame. But just because you are lucky enough to have a "typical" brain which can't even CONCEIVE of these different mental pathways, doesn't mean that these conditions don't exist. They can't conceive of what it's like for you either. All they know is that people are incredibly intolerant of what is - to them - perfectly normal.

        Having said all that, I have to be very careful of their technology input, especially since autistic minds can struggle to differentiate from what they see on TV and what is actually real. They probably watch more TV and play more computer games than they should, but to be honest that's better for them than a mother having a nervous breakdown. I am strict about what they are allowed to watch though. Most children's TV is completely out. Ben 10? Forget it. Documentaries? Go for your life. They love things like Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters. My six year old probably beat you playing Starcraft 2 last night. ;) It encourages keeping track of various things and strategising.

    • Re:Many Factors (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wordplay (54438) <geo@snarksoft.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:25AM (#38132776)

      Speaking as an adult who wasn't diagnosed with or treated for "nonexistent" ADHD until 39, in no small part because his parents bought into the absolutely bullshit line of crap you're spouting when his teachers pointed it out at age six:

      Fuck you.

      Your other points may be valid, but your straw man is so deeply offensive that I can't possibly absorb them.

  • Kids can take ALL the tech!!
  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:23PM (#38129760)

    Kids will take as much tech as they can hide in their baggy pants without being caught

    • Now that they all have skinny jeans and giant Beiber hairdos, look for a downturn in this metric.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ADHD: The new normal.

    What we're seeing are the effects of something that no generation in the history of mankind has ever had to deal with: children who can legitimately depend on other devices to do things that heretofore were the exclusive domain of the well-trained brain. No generation has ever grown up with this level of technology integrated into their daily lives.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I disagree, the human brain is still a lot faster than these computerized gadgets are. Compare calculating the trajectory of a flying object in your head versus on a computer and you'll see what I mean. Our brains do it almost instantaneously in cases where we are likely to need to do it and yet it takes a computer a lot longer to get you the same information.

      Now, if you work for NASA or the DoD and are calculating fast moving objects over long distances then technology has the edge, but for most people it'

    • Things like keeping memory? Like a diary? Or things like helping on calculation? Like math combined with that diary? Keeping track of time? Like a stone calendar?

      Came-on, we are the species that makes tools (to a huge dregree - a few others make tools to a limited degree). We always lived with tools, always used them to help what we were doing. We are not humans without "tech".

  • We live out in the country and were stuck with satellite internet, we recently got custody of our 2 nieces (6 and 9 then) and they kept asking about online gaming and watching streaming netflix . They just could not understand why that dosent work at our house or what a 350mb daily download limit pr ping times of 1300 mean. They have had broadband their whole life and think the internet is just everywhere and always has been.
  • TV is the worst.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:32PM (#38129862) Homepage Journal

    On the occasions where my 4 year old is somewhere that he watches TV, the way he looks and acts while doing it just makes my heart sink.

    He doesn't move. He is completely fixated on the screen. He needs me to make several attempts before his attention is diverted from the screen. He can look away breifly to talk to you but is trying to glance back at the screen.

    We have no TV service and no occasion for him to watch TV. We do have a small handful of movies we let him watch occasionally.

    One thing that he enjoys and that we let him do (usually one or two days a week) is watch the "Mighty Machines" movies, some of which you can stream off netflix. These are at least modestly interesting, as he is very interested in machines of all types.

    Another thing we do together is watch youtube videos of things hes interested in. Whether its trains or rockets or consturction equipment or car racing -- theres always something your child is interested in and usually a youtube video of it. But that is a two-person activity -- you and your child can ask questions about what you are watching, pause, replay, etc.

    The best thing you can do for your kids is read to them constantly, in an interactive way From an early age. Ask them what things are in books they know. Ask them more questions about the world their books create.

    Listen to the questions they ask. Never tell them to shut up when they are asking questions.

    When you say "I don't know", make sure you control your tone. Your tone should say "I don't know the answer to that, but now that you mention it, I'm curious too!" instead of "your question isn't important enough to answer"

    My 4 year old is an excellent reader, quite good at adding, counting by intervals, subtraction, etc. He likes to play "Angry Birds" on my wifes phone, although we limit that quite heavily. He knows how to login to my desktop machine, start up mspaint, start up wordpad, etc. He has some "Jumpstart" edu-games that he can play by himself.

    We limit how much computer time he gets --- even when it is educational software.

    I don't think anything (Besides normal TV) is intrinsically bad for kids in reasonable amounts. What parents should NOT do is use technology to babysit. What parents and kids benefit from is a variety of different experiences, all in reasonable duration and frequency.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:56PM (#38130204) Homepage Journal
      Man you had me until you mentioned MS Paint, exposing a kid to Microsoft garbage at such a young age is akin to child abuse. Stop the insanity!
    • On the occasions where my 4 year old is somewhere that he watches TV, the way he looks and acts while doing it just makes my heart sink. He doesn't move. He is completely fixated on the screen. He needs me to make several attempts before his attention is diverted from the screen. He can look away breifly to talk to you but is trying to glance back at the screen.

      I've heard that argument before, and I don't get it. So he's paying attention to the TV. Why is that bad? What worries you? I'll have that same level of focus in whatever it is that I'm truly engaged in. If you show up while I'm in my recliner reading a book that I'm particularly into, you might have to stand in front of me and call my name once or twice before my brain recognizes that you're there, trying to get my attention. Same thing if I'm soldering something, I tend to really focus when I'm doin

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:07PM (#38130304) Journal

      I understand what you're saying, and have observed that in my kid. Our solution (your mileage may vary) is to watch nothing in real time. Everything is prerecorded in some fashion. This helps all of us, but especially the kid, to make the TV our slave rather than being a slave to the tv. So at a very early age, when I need her attention, kid will instinctively reach out for the stop button so she can pay attention to me without missing any of the dialog. There is no such thing as "wait until the show's over" at our house. We leave when it's time to leave, and the kid picks up where she left off when we get back. (Right now she's going through all of Criminal Minds.)

      As to whether this is healthier, I have no idea. On my way into work I listen to the news in real time, and I find myself reaching for a non-existent rewind button if I missed something interesting. (Like emergency routes out of the city...) But for us, TV is something we watch when we want to watch it, and for as long as we want to watch it, and no more than that. If any of us has to take a potty break, or get a refill, or make a comment longer than five seconds, the show gets paused. Since we don't watch commercials, the amount of time in front of the tv is still less than were it live, even with pauses.

      What this does do is really mess up network planning. Tactics like Sandwitching an unpopular show between two winners to drum up viewership doesn't work if you only watch what you want to watch and nothing else. The concept of "prime time" and peak weekdays and dualing timeslots and even networks lose their meaning. I don't watch much TV anyway, but after programming the appliance, I couldn't even identify the network for most of the shows. (That's what IMDB is for.) Although I do follow directors and cast because they might do something else that's interesting.

      I strongly suspect that the conventional network TV industry is basically running on inertia right now. I think the "tv tray" mentality, where you sit back in your barcolounger and watch whatever is on until it's time to go to bed, will die with the boomer generation. (Of which I am one, but I'm a geek, and we're usually on the leading edge of things technological.) I heard recently that some shows are going directly to Netflix now, without ever having been on network TV, and I suspect that something like it is the wave of the future.

      In other words, technology finds a way, if you let it.

    • by Wordplay (54438)

      He doesn't move. He is completely fixated on the screen. He needs me to make several attempts before his attention is diverted from the screen. He can look away breifly to talk to you but is trying to glance back at the screen.

      We have no TV service and no occasion for him to watch TV. We do have a small handful of movies we let him watch occasionally.

      These two things could be related. I realize you're not a strict "no watching anything" household, but if TV is rare enough to him it will be supremely interesting when it is there.

      Not speaking as a parent here, so take with as much salt as one needs, but I suspect giving a child something else to be interested in is just as important as enforcing moderation in things like TV, games, whatnot. Sounds like you do that. I also commend the attention you're plainly giving your child.

      A lot of parents seem to just

  • Are today's children facing technology overload, or simply gearing themselves up for life in a digital world? This article examines the effects of exposing children to technology at a young age. Researchers warn of the potential dangers of too much 'screen time,' pointing to alarming (some say scaremongering) research that suggests over-exposure leads to an increased risk of developing autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Educators, meanwhile, highlight how technology can improve interaction between child and parent, and provide essential life skills, such as enhanced communication and multitasking. Parents are left with conflicting messages — but how much technology is too much technology for children?

    Depends on the kind of technology. Are we are talking educational videos and assembly kits under adult supervision? Are we talking strapping kids to a chair and letting them watch Baby Einstein for 6 hours at a time? Are we comparing "Keeping Up with the Trashdashians" exposure to technology?

    Assuming we are talking technology with a pedagogical purpose, children can take as much as you teach them they can handle. Raise your expectations in a positive, but disciplined way, and that's what you will get out

  • I'm a living example of both the rewards of getting kids into tech early, and the dangers of using the computer a a baby sitter. I learned to read and do basic maths at the age of 3, from Reader Rabbit, Math Rabbit, Treasure Math Storm, and others; this had me years ahead of my peers when I started school. I developed a strong taste for it, though, to the exclusion of sports. Computer games were just more fun and interesting to me than ball games. Whether or not technology stopped me from being the grea

  • The first point is that overexposure can be harmful, which is true for just about anything.

    The second point is that it can improve interaction/life/communication skills when used in an educational environment. That can just as easily be at home as in school, depending on how involved the parent is with the child.

    The question isn't how much tech the child is exposed to, it's how the tech is used.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      The right amount of water is necessary for life. Too much can be harmful. This is hardly old news, but sometimes we need reminding.

  • by supercrisp (936036) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:47PM (#38130052)
    Research done at Duke and in Romania shows that computers or access to broadband can lower study scores. It's not so shocking, really, that games and media can supplant study, reading, and thinking. So I think the question shouldn't be how much (quantity) but of what sort and how (quality). The Duke study was done by . Vigdor and Ladd; there's a gloss of it in a New York Times article called "Computers at Home, Hope vs. Reality." I can attest to the fact that students on college campuses today read books, newspapers, and magazines far less than did students in the 80s. Instead they're generally using social media, texting, or listening to a portable music player. You almost never see students carry around battered paperbacks anymore; in the past the ratty old Stephen King or some similar lite reading was a common time burner between classes. Though it does seem that devices like Nooks and Kindles are becoming a little more common on campus.
    • by Ltap (1572175)
      Remember that it is less obvious now who is literate and who isn't. Someone might use a laptop to spend a day on Facebook or they might have 100,000 ebooks on it ... or both.
      • by Wordplay (54438)

        This. I never touch paper media anymore. I do read Kindle books; study Wikipedia as well as a number of other primary and secondary sources; read, listen to, and watch the news from several different regions and countries; stay more current in my hobbies than magazines ever let me; and even subscribe to a few traditionally dead-tree magazines in electronic format because I like their editorial style. I'm considerably more broad than I ever was with paper.

        As far as lowering study scores, sure. Studying more

  • by macwhizkid (864124) on Monday November 21, 2011 @06:51PM (#38130100)

    I've always thought that "screen time" is a ridiculous metric for kids. As though watching the Disney Channel, writing C++, playing Halo, and Skyping with friends/family are all the same thing. And it only gets worse as LCD panels become cheaper (and thus more prevalent in our lives). Are we going to count sitting in the family minivan playing with the GPS on the way to school as screen time? How about reading textbooks on the family iPad?

    What really matters, of course, is the engagement of the parents to set up, support, and reinforce the environment of their children. I have no doubt that many parents simply hand their child their iPhone to distract them when they're busy with other things. Too many parents don't burden themselves with getting involved in the choices their children make, and then usually regret it later or try to fix it in artificial ways (see: "screen time"). At the same time, there are parents who teach or enable their kids to do great things with technology, like film and edit home movies, or write simple iOS/Android apps, or build simple circuits.

    The parents matter. More specifically their time, effort, and creativity matters. Friends, other family, choice of school, and other available resources matter. The "amount of screen time" doesn't matter. Stop worrying about it, and start worrying about the choices that do.

  • They are scared.

  • by dohnut (189348) on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:13PM (#38130382)

    ..are living in some sort of F'ing fantasy land!

    What I wouldn't have given to have my parents let an Atari 2600, an NES, or an Apple II babysit me. No, instead I had go outside and do chores, do dishes, clean my room, clean everyone else's room, do my homework, finish eating my food, monitor the reactor core, etc. Seriously, In the summer I had to go to bed when it was still light outside (and no, I didn't live in Alaska). Do kids even have bedtimes anymore?

    Oh to be left alone by my legal guardians to sit and veg in front of an electronic device... We are chastising these parents?! These parents are heroes!

  • Eye troubles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:31PM (#38130520) Journal

    My wife is a vision therapist. She is seeing lots of kids come in who have trouble reading, playing sports that involve catching, and similar issues. When you're young your brain is really malleable but what it sees is what it expects as normal. When kids' eyes are constantly focussing on small high-resolution screens just a short distance from their faces, their brains consider that normal and adapt to that, meaning the kids have trouble, later on, with easily getting distant images to fuse. It's not like their eyes are crossed, but they do have to work harder, in some cases a lot harder, to maintain distance vision. She gets lots of kids who are considered slow learners or who "just hate reading" and after 12 weeks or so of visual training, suddenly they can catch balls easily, are reading at their grade level, and are enjoying reading.

  • There is some argument about the overuse of technology, but the bigger issue is how and when it's used. Now, plopping the kid in front of the TV.. generally bad, even if it's so called educational programming. Video games... I'd say so so, as long as the socialization is there. Now, things that make the kid learn more and become engaged in their information and such, not so bad. It's all in the use. Using it as a substitute for something is not going to end well. using it as a supplement for most things, pr

  • If a kid grows up with concerned active parents who spend signifcant time interacting with her, the screen time will probably not hurt too much. If TV and tech are used as a constant babysitter, then the kid will probably have stunted intellect and social skills.

    Russel Bank's latest novel "Lost Memory of Skin" (11 reviews here [bookwormhole.net]) concerns a guy who grew up with no emotional support, fell in internet porn, and found himself in real trouble.

  • I swear these articles are sometimes just an excuse for people on Slashdot to write posts on how awesome their son or daughter is, how they aren't affected by tech and how amazing their kid is compared to everyone else.

  • Watching the movie for the 20th time isn't "exposing kids to tech". If you interact with your kids a maximum amount of the time, that's probably better than listening to experts. Experts don't know your kids. Kids are individuals. Observe them and do what works.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      True. The sad thing I see is parents who get an educational video, and then play the thing over and over and over for their kid. The video might even be an awesome video that has massive educational value for their kid, but after the third viewing the kid has gotten everything educational out of it that they are going to, and the parent just keeps running it over and over hundreds of times. They pat themselves on the back, and tell themselves how they are "educating" their child. Then you get the exact
  • by Krishnoid (984597) * on Monday November 21, 2011 @07:53PM (#38130676) Journal
    Is it clearly understood how much tech adults can take? It seems to me that the unstated assumption is that adults have a well-tuned self-regulation mechanism for their intake, but is that borne out by the evidence?
    • by Bucky24 (1943328)
      The tolerance point of an adult with a fully developed brain (ie adults above the age of 27) is higher since their mind is not being molded by the technology. A child's mind is extremely pliable, and affected more strongly. But yes, there is a point with everywhere where they have too much tech in their lives. Unless you're a robot I suppose.
  • Kids are swamped with video games so much that ey think all devices are used for games. I have started greatly limiting my son's exposure knowing he gets free reign when going to other kid's houses and while visiting the local YMCA. It has been an obsession with him since he first started watching me play WOW at age four. I shortly thereafter quit WOW cold turkey and have been trying to instill in him that computers are used for more than video games. I have even had him do some programming with BASIC and G
  • My nephew is in a house hold without much tech not to mention he's an outside kind of kid, but when he comes over and uses our computers, he needs to know how to spell to search youtube and stuff.

  • I don't know what the appropriate amount, or kind of technology is appropriate. As an anecdote, I can say that using a calculator helped me focus on learning the concepts of calculus by reducing the risk of arithmetic error that might have reduced the amount of time spent "doing" the distinctly calculus parts. That said, my arithmetic skills have degraded. I am much slower and quickly reach for the tool. I think there is always a cost and benefit.

    My objection is that too many schools see technological re
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:56PM (#38131122) Homepage

    5 year olds can only handle about 6 pounds of tech, any more and they start dropping it.

  • False Correlation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zaldarr (2469168) on Monday November 21, 2011 @10:22PM (#38131862) Homepage
    A part of this I think stems from the ideas expressed in the above comments about successive generations of parents being all up in arms about 'the new rock and roll', but I think it might just be that children are just getting stupider and people are latching onto technology as an excuse. I'm a child of the early 90's, (yes, a whippersnapper) and the amount of stupidity displayed by my generation never ceases to amaze and depress. I graduated from high school this year, and I can tell you as a statistical fact that half of the year failed mathematics and English miserably - and in the medium level classes too, not just the hard ones. As I have passed through high school I have assessed it's methods of teaching (because I want to learn dammit) and I judged it to be far below par. The culture amongst the students is of mutual congratulatory failure and the vast majority of the teachers are simply riding it out until they hit retirement. Instead of latching onto technology as a scapegoat, it would be far better to tear down the existing system and restructure education from the ground up.
  • Depends on how much room they have in their pockets, backpacks and fanny packs.
  • by daem0n1x (748565) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:16AM (#38134526)

    provide essential life skills, such as enhanced communication and multitasking

    It's rather retarded that the summary calls multitasking an "essential life skill". In my opinion, multitasking is one the worse woes in today's work environment. Kills productivity and quality. Forces people to work longer hours to keep up with the mess, disables them to perform meticulous tasks, causes an immense load of errors, destroys team work because everybody is too busy to pay attention to other team members, and makes people miserable in the end.

    The fact that so many bosses find it such an important quality is scaring.

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

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