Health Care Dialogue
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD
September 7, 2012
Dear Dr. Hwang:
“My elementary children do not have a passion for reading. When I was their age, I loved to read and couldn’t get enough of it. I’m nervous that computers and technology are going to discourage our children from reading because technology seems more engaging. Should we limit screen time?”
Children have access to an abundant amount of technology 24/7. It’s almost impossible to micromanage the surge of media that continues to inundate our children’s lives at quantum speed. We’re barely able to learn how one technological devise or program functions, before another one presents itself full force. Trying to keep up with technological advances are impossible given the rapid rate programs becomes obsolete. Technology is highly engaging and offers a high level of stimulation. Why do you think adults are as plugged into technological gadgets as children are?
I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Everything in moderation.” Therein lies the wisdom. Whether it’s reading, technology, television, work, play, moderation and living a more balanced existence is likely one way in which adults can model to children healthy attitudes about a variety of habits, interests and disciplines. It’s important that adults provide opportunities for children to play outside, spend time with friends socializing and if possible participate in athletics versus only sedentary activities. Technology also acts as an instant babysitter, if you will, which provides easy entertainment for exhausted adults who sometimes needs to unplug from a long day of work. Unfortunately however, children habitually begin to rely on a variety of forms of media as the only form of entertainment and begin to lose interest in other cognitive, social, emotional, athletic or psychological forms of engaging with the world.
In elementary school, children begin to learn about technology and media as one way to engage in learning. However, children are also learning to be smart consumers of what’s out there in cyber space as well. Teaching children how to consume and take in information from the media is also critical so that your child adopts a value system that reflects the kind of decisions you might want for him/her. Reading through technology has become more and more advanced and user friendly for children. If you enjoy reading and your children enjoy technology, you may want to merge your interests? If you can afford it, maybe you can purchase a Kindle or Nook? I have an i-pad and enjoy the flexibility of having a lightweight technological book that I can download many texts and books at a time. Reading is no longer just about reading words from cover to cover. Now, it’s about a form of education and entertainment that is much different than when I was in elementary school. Instead of fighting the inevitable resistance your child is communicating, you may find that joining them technologically may enhance their love of reading and your love of technology? Moderating the two activities may also help your family enjoy something more, because sometimes, less really is more.