EUGENE, Ore. – How much technology is enough for a young child? Eugene area parents have been asking this question as of late.
"We see our kids looking down a lot. They don't look you in the eye when you talk to them. Do you notice that?" questions local Eugene mom Denise.
In turn, her husband Charles says "yea, come to think of it kids today only seem to focus on that screen or iPhone they carry. They don't stop and look me in the face when I ask them something. Strange isn't it."
Parents deprive child’s brains of ‘downtime’ by pushing tech-gadgets
“Do you have your cell, and signed-off e-mail,” questions Eugene parent Marni while sending her three teens out the door for school; meanwhile, experts say that pushing digital devices could “deprive kids brains of necessary downtime.”
“I got caught up in making sure my kids had their tech dog-leash without thinking about it harming them. That’s over. It’s history. We’re weaning them off their fix of having cells 24/7. I even found my oldest sleeping with his it,” explains Eugene parent Marni during a recent meeting of concerned families who are tackling the issue of digital multitasking. In turn, a recent CNN TV health watch pointed to a New York Times story about new mental health issues related to a digital culture that embraces multitasking for both adults and children.“The New York Times reports that digital devices and distractions -- from cell phones, to laptops, iPods, e-mail and mobile games -- could deprive our brains of necessary downtime.”
“Who knew that apple juice had arsenic? And, eating a cantaloupe could kill you,” quipped another Eugene parent named Ramon while pointing to recent food scares. “I thought by giving my daughter a laptop and an iPhone she’d have the complete package for high school. Now, I wonder why we don’t talk together like before,” the father says while seeming confused about a “digital world” where personal communications between parents and children is now somewhat rare due to their kids “digital companions.”
A Dad who sent hand-written love notes to his daughter
“Some of my most treasured gifts are Dad’s notes. His words have a way of inspiring me, still,” writes Jennifer Grant in her new book “Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.”
“He (Cary Grant) took time to craft his clever correspondences. Dad delighted in seeing the good in all things and finding ways to speak of it. IN the age of e-mail, writing my hand seems a guilty pleasure. The paper itself is a gift. Thank God Dad saved all the notes. Hundreds of correspondences. Were I brought up in the nineties or thereafter we might not have all these letters on paper. We’d have e-mails? There’s something a bit sad about that part of progress,” writes Jennifer Grant while asking:
-- Do children e-mail their parents now?
-- Dad would certainly print out the e-mails, but we’d miss a huge piece of their texture.
-- I cherish Dad’s handwriting! It’s slant, force, and grace is personality in letters. Intonations in the texture of his print.
Parents embrace tech-gadgets for kids because they don’t have time
“Multitasking is a way of life for millions Americans... and to many, it seems like the more technology we can squeeze into every waking moment, the better. Maybe not,” reports CNN, while noting that “people use phones and other electronic devices to get work done almost anywhere these days; from the gym, to the grocery store checkout line, the bus stop or a stoplight. Many see it as a way to make even the smallest window of time productive or entertaining.”
However, researchers say that downtime is essential because “it's a way to let the brain go over experiences it's had and turn them into long-term memories. And you can't do that if your nose is always stuck in some electronic device,” reports CNN, while noting that “scientists also say that even though people like multi-tasking - they might in fact be taxing their brains and tiring themselves out. Some people say they feel stressed out by the pressure to constantly stay in contact via their cell phones or computers.
Meanwhile, CNN reports “there's a new study out that shows teens are becoming addicted to texting - with the average teen sending 3,000 texts a month. Experts say the same part of the brain is stimulated with both texting and using drugs, like heroin. Signs of being addicted to texting include: losing track of time, not eating or sleeping, ignoring other people or lying because of texting and always needing to receive more texts.”
Survey says parents pushing more tech-gadgets on their kids
The results of a NBC News “Today and Parenting.com” survey released Sept. 16 noted that “1,500+ respondents noted that “16 percent said age 12 was OK to have a computer in their room, while 19 percent said age 14; and 59 percent said wait until they’re 16.”
Also, the Today and Parenting.com survey showed that “44 percent of parents say they trust a 13-year-old to get homework done on his or her own” with computers and cell phones around; while adding that “32 percent say age 11, and 21 percent say age 9” is OK to trust them alone “doing homework” when having access to computers and iPhones.
As for allowing their children to have cell phones at school – asking the parents is a cell phone a ‘necessity or a distraction?’ – “one in 10 parents say their 9-year-old is ready to bring a cell phone to school, while one in 5 say age 11 is old enough to bring a cell phone to school.”
The survey also noted that “59 percent of parents say they’d wait until age 13” to allow their child to bring a cell phone to school.
Parents think it’s OK for their kids to be home alone “because they will be doing homework”
Also, it’s known that kids like to use cell phones and computers for cyber-bullying.
Given the fact that most American homes – with the exception of the 50 million Americans that the U.S. Census notes “live below the poverty line, and earning under $20,000 a year” – are fully loaded with all the latest tech-gadgets, including cell phones, to laptops, iPods, e-mail and mobile games, it’s also not surprising that this survey – of ultra-busy, distracted and multitasking parents – think it’s OK for their kids to be home alone.
According to the survey, “nearly half (44 percent) of parents say 12 is old enough to come home to an empty house after school, while 16 percent say their 10-year-old is mature enough for that.” Also, the survey stated that “38 percent say they’d wait until their child is 14 to let them come home to an empty house.”
Moreover, the survey revealed that “39 percent of parents say 13-year-old kids should be allowed to talk with friends on the phone at night; 33 percent say age 11 and 26 percent say age 9. But they’d wait longer to allow unfettered instant-message access, with 40 percent agreeing that age 15 is mature enough to IM with friends.”
Still, most parents view the tech “leash” as somewhat necessary given the fact that children mirror their parents when watching mom and dad using their cell phone and even texting while driving a car.