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Make Tech Holiday Gifts Good for Families
Eitan D. Schwarz MD -- ZillyDilly for iPad Eitan D. Schwarz MD -- ZillyDilly for iPad
Sunday, November 21, 2010

With holiday shopping starting to accelerate, parents are tempted by the wonderful technology devices flooding the marketplace, but many fear their negative impact on kids. After over a decade of media's explosive and chaotic inroads into home life, parents are intimidated and feel helpless. And with all the negative press about technology and kids, parents are naturally worried, according to Dr. Schwarz, also known as Dr. S. Those 20% who restrict and filter content get only partial results.

So why does Dr. Eitan Schwarz, the Illinois psychiatrist expert in technology's impact on family life, speak positively about how technology can benefit families and children? 

While tech devices come with manuals, these do not include the crucial instructions about how to fit the device into the life of the child and family. Parents need family-centered tools to help them harvest and systematically manage media into healthy assets, just as they strive to with food consumption and education.

Dr. S now supports parents with a fresh way of thinking that empowers them with systematic knowledge and the right tools to manage their children's media life in his new book Kids, Parents & Technology and web site www.mydigitalfamily.org.

According to Dr. S, parents can now turn this holiday season into the start of a promising new chapter in how technology works in their homes. For starters, Dr. S recommends that before bringing new devices into children's lives, parents

• Think of all tech devices as home appliances that must bring value to family life and child development.

• Create a Media Plan for each child that includes both limits and the benefits of Growth Opportunities: better Family Relationships, Socialization, Values education, and Education Enrichment.

• Make Entertainment in itself only a minor part of the Media Plan.

• Decide on healthy ways for their use according to how they fit into the Media Plan.

• Avoid any device that does not serve clear family- and child-centered aims or provides only entertainment, especially if it will isolate the child with the device.

• Schedule your direct presence and put limits of time and place for its use (or negotiate with older children) from the very beginning.

• Begin applying your new approach gradually to all other tech devices kids use (from TV through iPods and iPads.)

Technology is here to stay, and will be a central part of life for kids growing up, so start them off early and in the right way, and they will learn how to fit it into their lives later according to Dr. S.

Lynda O'Connor or Jim O'Oconner
(847) 615-5462