Screen Time Clinic

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Waiting is Caring

Every parent wants to see their children happy and full of joy. This is especially true during gift giving times. The quest to give the perfect gift has always put a lot of stress on parents both financially and logistically. But now, parents have another dilemma to deal with — giving tech to children and teens without proper thought to the pros and cons. Here are the top 5 reasons why it’s smart to wait when thinking about gifting technology and alternatives.

1. Addictive Apps are Designed to Steal Time

The cost of using technology goes far beyond the initial purchase. Smart phones and computer games are carefully designed to consume as much user time as possible to maximize ad revenue and data collection. The constant clicking, scrolling, and interacting make apps highly addictive, releasing large amounts of dopamine while using– creating a true addiction with emotional highs and lows when not using. Children on the autism spectrum are even more susceptible to these emotional fluctuations and addiction. Even small amounts of time quickly build to more and more use. Are you are ready to engage in a constant battle against apps that have been fine tuned to keep users coming back, constantly increasing the amount of time used and level of desire to want more? If not, delaying access to smart phones and sophisticated video games is a smart idea.

2. Sensitive Developing Brains Need Real Life Interactions

Children’s brains are in a constant state of formation until age 25. Massive connections are made until age 7 then synapse pruning begins and neuron pathways that are underused begin to disappear while others that are used more often are strengthened. When time is spent online the primitive part of the brain becomes overdeveloped, focused on strengthening the reward pathways while other critical brain functions are put on hold such as problem solving, focus, stamina for boredom, creativity, and emotional intelligence. With so many alternative activities available to children, why default to technology as a gift when the gift of an experience rich childhood and inquisitive mind is the best gift a child can possess? If you want your child to have well rounded thought processes, delaying access to smart phones and sophisticated video games is a smart idea.

3. Keep Family Time Sharing Experiences

Little things like watching a movie together as a family become disconnected when kids have phones in hands. Part of sharing experiences together is gaining an understanding of other people– listening to when others laugh, making comments about what you are watching and sharing a common bond when emotions connect to what is shown on screen. Unfortunately when there are smart phones in hands while other experiences are happening, moments are lost to cyberspace and these emotional connections that we take for granted don’t happen. Is it really worth giving into peer pressure to have a constant interloper in your family’s life? If you value your family time, delaying access to smart phones and sophisticated video games is a smart idea.

4. Minimize External Influence

The truth is no matter how much you try to take steps to carefully curate what your child sees online, you can’t possibly prevent all unsavory sights from being seen. Much of the inappropriate sharing of content comes between naive peers and plenty from unsolicited outsiders. Online sharing platforms do not bring out the best social skills in participants and children are quick to pick up on crass alter-ego talk that would never be tolerated in person but is seemly hidden online. When you buy your child a smart phone or computer for their room you are inviting strangers into their life. Are you prepared for the changes that will inevitable come from these negative influences? If not, delaying access to smart phones and sophisticated video games is a smart idea.

5. Protect Your Child’s Privacy & Digital Reputation

Your child’s digital footprint is set in stone, nothing online is truly private. Because children and teen brains are underdeveloped until the mid 20’s their decision making skills are hyper focused on instant gratification and in the moment decisions. Future consequences both short and long term have no place in young folks minds, yet every click, comment, like and share are permanently recorded. What type of games they play, the comments they make while playing are forever logged. These records are later easily accessed by companies profiting from digital reputation reporting to schools and businesses. Financial credit scores are becoming a thing of the past with employers more focused on risky online behavior that could easily become a liability. Is it worth letting young teens create a profile that could someday be used against them?If not, delaying access to smart phones and sophisticated video games is a smart idea.

With so many alternatives to smart phones like the Wisephone from Techless, it’s a good idea to take a closer look and see if the social and emotional costs outweigh the benefits of gifting technology for the holidays. Once you are ready to “give” it, make sure it’s understood it’s not a gift that belongs to them, access is a privilege that has use parameters. With so many technology industry parents restricting their own children’s access to these devices, why are we giving into our children’s peer pressure and gifting them at all?

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