Parenting in a Digital Age

How exactly are we supposed to raise children in a digital age?

Do we limit screen time, prohibit digital use, restrict it only for school work?

Or ought we engage our children in a discussion of what they are seeing and how this might be impacting their lives.

The Family Health Research Lab led by Dr. Sarah Domoff at Central Michigan University is quickly developing into a national leader in understanding the digital lives of children and it’s impact on well being.

In a very interesting recent study, Dr. Domoff engaged in a naturalistic observation of how families communicate about mobile devices.

Over 70 children wore an audio recording device that was used to record conversations related to using tablets, phones, television, etc.

The conversations were then transcribed and analyzed by a team of multi-disciplinary researchers-clinical child psychology, communication and developmental pediatrics.

One of the notable findings is that parents rarely engaged with the students about the content of the mobile media use, but rather focused on limit-setting and reacting to questions by the children. Children were more likely to engage siblings in conversations about the applications and content of the media.

While the study was not designed to determine the impact that these conversations had on behavior or perceptions, it is an important and creative addition to the research that will ultimately help us to effectively harness the potential of this new digital reality while minimizing the negative consequences.

As an educator who often sees the challenges presented in mobile technology use in a high school setting, I would be fascinated to see Dr. Domoff and her lab utilize the LENA audio recording device in an educational setting.

Here is a link to the study.

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