- Limit exposure to visual media – whether it be TV, videos or web-based media. I remember way back when our kids were small, my wife was concerned about Sesame Street. Everyone was proclaiming the virtues of such educational material, but she wasn't so sure. In retrospect, after having observed middle school and high school students up close in an educational setting for over 40 years, I believe she was right. The images on programs such as Sesame Street change every couple of minutes either causing or adding to children's inability to focus for long stretches of time.
- Encourage creative, imaginative play. Reduce the number of choices children have to play with at any given time. When your children are faced with which one of 20 different toys they should play with at any given moment, it increases the decision making part of the brain, but reduces the thoughtful part.
- Read to your children often and encourage them to read when they are old enough. Let them see you reading, thus setting a good example that they will want to follow.
- When using technology personally or with children, use it for specific purposes and reduce the impulsivity of it. In other words, don't jump to the technology to fill every 5 minute void in something to do. Don't give your children the example of interrupting one activity with another as demanded by your technology. In other words, when you are writing in a word processing program, as I am right now, don't keep switching to see all of the world-shaping events in the news and weather and Facebook changes that have taken place in the last 5 minutes. Let it be obvious that you stay on a task for extended periods of time and teach them to do the same.
- Don't allow children to have the technology in their rooms. Let everything be out in the open so that you can see and control how its used.
- As strange as it sounds, create times of quiet in the house where kids can read and work on homework while parents read a book or magazine. Leave the TV off. Make sure cell phones are unavailable for texting or web browsing after a certain time.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Technology and the Christian - part 11
See previous articles for context (Part 1 here; Part 10 here)
So what are some concrete steps you can take to help prevent this from happening to you and your children?
Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2008.
Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.
Challies, Tim. The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.
Jackson, Maggie. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2008.