The Wired Child

Joan Ganz Cooney Center (
wired-child THE WIRED CHILD Today’s preschoolers are a member of Generation C, the connected society. They have always known the world where social media and apps are an integral part of life. How much do they know, and how much do they really need to know at such a young age? What Kids Should Know Technical expectations for children entering kindergarten in the 21st century: Use a mouse to move a cursor on a screen Know where main buttons are on a keyboard Have familiarity with at least five interactive applications, games or activities Know such technical terminology as digital camera, iPad, computer, the Internet, mouse, keyboard, and printer Be able to type their name on a QWERTY keyboard Understand basic functions of an Internet browser How Children Use Technology and the Internet Daily Internet use by young children … … by age 3 25% … by age 5 50% 8 in 10 Web-connected children 5 and younger who use the Internet at least once a week 27% Proportion of all screen time that’s spent on digital media by kids 8 and younger 60% Proportion of best-selling education apps geared toward preschool-age children 30% Apps on parents’ phones downloaded by their children “… by age 3, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content. This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.” Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, learning designer for Leapfrog Enterprises Media Exposure Through the Years Times certainly have changed, but even since the 1930s, adults have been concerned about monitoring their kids’ exposure to mass media. Overall media exposure by decade Decade Weekly hours Types of media The 1930s 10 hours Movies, radio, TV, records The 1960s 30 hours* Movies, print, radio, TV The 1980s 40 hours* Movies, print, TV, radio, video game consoles, portable music players, computers The 1990s 52 hours Movies, print, TV, radio, video game consoles, portable music players, computers, portable video games, the Internet, cell phones The 2000s 75 hours Movies, print, TV, radio, video game consoles, computers, portable video games, the Internet, cellphones, MP3 players, interactive toys, smartphones, tablets * Based partially on time TV is on in-home each day Keeping it Real While today’s young people may be more technologically savvy than their peers, screen time isn’t always a good thing, depending on the child’s age. Maximum amount of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics by age Under 2 No screen exposure 2 and older 1-2 hours Other recommendations Screen-free zones throughout the home Ample time spent on outdoor play, hobbies, reading and using imagination Taking it to the Extreme… Like adults, children can become hooked on technology. 4 Age of youngest known person receiving outpatient treatment for technology addiction, in the UK earlier this year $25,000 Cost of 28-day digital detox program at a London hospital to wean children off computer games and mobile phones Signs of technology addiction Vast amount of time spent engaged with technology Constant preoccupation with technology Withdrawal from social situations to play with device Tired and irritable due to lack of sleep Board when not using digital devices Withdrawal from previously enjoyable activities to play with device Compromised school performance due to focus on technology Healthy Use of Technology Ways parents can help kids unplug: Become informed on technology overuse on mental and physical health (i.e. attention problems, aggression, impaired body image, attachment disorders). Unplug yourself. Youth often emulate parents. Designate sacred time to reconnect with a child. Explore alternatives to technology as a family. Enhance performance skills prior to unplugging child. Meet developmental milestones through movement, touch, and connection. Address perceptions of outdoor safety. Outdoor play is important for children. Create a productive role for a child to help increase self-esteem. Schedule a balance between technology use and other activities. Help create sustainable futures for children, utilizing corporate funds and donations that help the community. Integrating preschools with technology and interactive media: Allow children to freely explore touch screens while using developmentally appropriate interactive media. Allow them to use mouse and keyboard when using websites. Take photos of artwork they have created; videotape dramatic play. Celebrate children’s accomplishments with a digital media display. Use technology when appropriate for children with special needs. Make digital or audio files to document child’s creative progress. Explore digital storytelling. Co-create digital books with photos. Have child narrate using audio files. SOURCES  
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