(PRLEAP.COM) Google just unveiled (and Apple and others will soon follow) yet another forward-looking technology device — voice-commanded eyeglasses with lenses that are actually transparent screens to display online digital images (and probably eventually also sound from the earpieces). "These are a new category of ‘wearable computers’. Parents too must now look forward carefully to challenges and opportunities from such new devices," according to ZillyDilly for iPad ZillyDilly inventor, practicing Chicago child psychiatrist Eitan Schwarz, MD, also known as Dr. S Dr. S
"Wearable computers surely promise to become much more intimate accessories tied closely to our personal space and identity. Can you imagine how attractive they will be to youngsters of all ages and the pressure on parents to buy them? And the teen fads? Jewelry? And then they will spread to the fashion world and robots jump into cribs and playpens? Such engaging new technologies will keep coming exponentially fast, so how will parents and educators manage these to benefit, rather than hurt children?" asks Dr. S, faculty member at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Dr. S continues, "Our truly brilliant engineers deliver great innovations to serve us as tools. But in the hands of children, most will be coveted as toys, much as computers, mobile phones and tablets have been, and difficult to control. Yes, recent guidance by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Fred Rogers Center recent guidance describes potential educational benefits to young children, moderating earlier warnings by the American Academy of Pediatrics warnings and essentially sanctioning greater parental discretion. However, while digital devices have great potential to benefit kids and families, studies are showing that unsupervised widespread use causes disturbances in learning, attention, normal play, and social skills especially in the 20% of more vulnerable kids."
Dr. S, who has researched play therapy with technology devices therapy with technology, is concerned that parents have been mostly on their own managing their kids usage of such devices for well over a decade. His mission is to change that."My clinical research and extensive discussions with parents show that each family seems to reinvent the wheel and cope in its own way, and some do very well. But many don’t."
He adds, "The answer has to be in family life. After over a decade of Wild West excitement and chaos, it is now time for parents to begin systematically and thoroughly teaching their children of all ages through their teens positive media habits while they still have the home court advantage. I urge parents to anchor media usage firmly within family life, starting even as early as the pre-school years."
Dr. S, has innovated a comprehensive actionable system of thinking in his 2010 book "Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families", and invented the beginnings of a solution in ZillyDilly for iPad.
He summarizes, "Follow a simple tenet: A device only belongs in my child’s hands or in my home only if I am sure that it will enrich my children’s development and my family’s health. Make all tech devices family and school appliances. Prevent alone use except for reading and homework. Create face-to-face media-free human interactivity zones and times and prevent interference with mealtimes, family drives, recess, and other togetherness opportunities. Parents — park your device before interacting with family. Charge devices in central common family areas subject to age-dependent limits on private use and alone time."
Dr. S outlines additional lifestyle changes that will help youngsters cope with their digital world now and in the future:
Make sure media are truly effective as educational, and not just claimed to be. Check with your child’s teachers before you buy.
Balance content, prioritizing family, values, social skills, and education while limiting entertainment.
Tie media consumption to developmental age and maturity: Introduce preschoolers to various media only in a fully-involved, thoughtful and focused way; be flexible and respectful, and avoid major conflict; gradually expand privileges for responsible, mature kids to eventually allow media independence by mid to late teens; and accommodate special needs individuals.
Teach that healthy media self-care is an ongoing process that starts early, like good hygiene and nutrition, and includes self-discipline, zeal for discovery essential for excellence, time and information management, and planning and organizational skills.
Keep positive media consumption and its monitoring an ongoing family project and conversation topic and gently but firmly introduce new rules.
Use devices as much as possible for social, multi-person interactivity.
Always focus children on how tech devices can benefit family life and include grandparents and siblings.
Use childproofed pre-vetted diverse free Internet content as well as apps to develop a well- rounded, informed, and competent children
Demythologize the magic of technology while at the same time appreciating the actual workings of these devices and brilliant man-made design, hard work, and engineering skills your kids too could someday emulate in our free society.
"I urge parents to decide now to make an investment in ther children’s future. Take charge from the start, set rules, limit time, and provide a balance of experiences appropriate to the age and needs of each child," Dr. S concludes.
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