January 19 Newsletter 

Hi there,

Birth2Work exists to support parents. We've been in the field for a long time. In fact, co-founder Elane V. Scott has been coaching and supporting parents professionally since the mid-1980s!

From having worked with so many families over the years, Elane can attest that a great deal of the parenting that most of us do as adults is rooted in how we were parented ourselves. And that's all most of us know.

Nevertheless, that doesn't mean our primary model of parenting is the only or even a very good way to raise our own children.

The skills and tools we need to be parents and grandparents to our own families are not the same as what we knew or needed when we were kids.

Let’s repeat that idea.

What we need to know as parents and grandparents is determined by the world we are raising children in, not the world in which we were raised.

 

That being said ...


We at Birth2Work have been struggling with the position of many parents and grandparents with regard to the children in their lives and digital technology.

The things we know now as parents, based on our own experience as kids who watched TV, are not enough to fully equip us to handle the enormity of the digital world the kids of today are facing.

Excessive screen time is deeply disconcerting and supremely dangerous for the development of children. 

Parents and grandparents today need a new media tool kit. 

 

Screens are a convenient tool but ...


Serious issues have been substantiated in publications and by prominent institutions too numerous to name. 

The psychological issues associated with too much technology use include:

  • distraction
  • narcissism
  • addiction
  • expectation of instant gratification
  • depression

The negative physical effects include:

  • neck strain
  • hearing loss
  • vision problems

And yet, parents and grandparents still willingly hand over their iPhone to distract a 2-year-old or buy an iPhone as a gift for a 10-year-old.

 

First, a disclaimer:


We are not anti-technology! Co-founder Rick Stephens spent decades working at the highest levels of the aerospace and technology fields in the world. 

We recognize the tremendous opportunity for research and connectivity that hand-held technology can offer.

But there’s a huge difference between having the engineering and mathematical intelligence behind the operational functioning of a piece of technology and swiping your index finger across a screen.

Technology can be a terrific tool but cannot be the exclusive tool for accessing greater learning, understanding, and experience in the world. It’s no substitute for real-life experience.

 

We urge you ...


Please don't:

  • hand your toddler a tablet to keep them quiet when you’re out to eat,
  • give your tween a smart phone and think because she knows how to work most of the apps that she’s mature enough to handle the aggressive and explicit activity of online predators,
  • believe that your kids will be fine using all the technology because "they’re smart" or you "trust them" or because you were fine watching TV when you were a kid.
Please do:
  • research reputable sources that explain the  layers of complex, long-term harm that too much digital engagement has on young people,
  • be proactive and put together a restaurant "go kit" for your young child to use in lieu of a phone. Let them pick a special box that has small toys, crayons, and a book that they only get to use when you go out. Engage with them at the table.
  • wait until (at least) 8th grade to introduce a smartphone into your teen’s life. Flip phones work to check in on your child’s safety from one place to another. Afraid your child will be ostracized? Emphasize instead real-life experiences in which everyone puts tech away and hangs out in an unmediated way. (The Wait Until 8th campaign is incredibly valuable for garnering broad support within your child’s peer group.)

 

Lastly ... 


Model appropriate behavior and usage of technology yourself. Put the phone down and engage with your family eye to eye. Your overall time with your kids is so excruciatingly limited … why would you rob yourself of it with half your attention diverted to a little device?

Nothing happening behind the screen is more valuable than the family in front of your face.

And honestly, sometimes it is hard for us to do too! We love to share pics with family, check in on friends, and watch cats who are afraid of cucumbers jump wildly on YouTube (yes, it’s a thing!), just like everyone.

But we remind ourselves every day not to fall into the tech quicksand. Where we can look up a new recipe online, we can cook and share the meal as a family, thus creating a million real-life, teachable moments in the process. (See our popular Instagram post this week for more on that.)

Let’s end here by supercharging this email with value for you.

 

Tools to learn more ...


Instead of ignoring the insurmountable scientific evidence and, if you reflect honestly, your own real-life experience with young people who are clearly stunted in their communication skills, what about reading these value-filled posts we've written?

They will actually support your understanding of what to do as a parent or grandparent in this new world.

Blog Posts

1. Social Media and Your Child’s Brain: Why You Need to Pay Attention

2. "Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media"

 

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Cheers,

The Birth2Work Family

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P.S. Skipped to the bottom? There’s no two ways about it, too much technology is physically and emotionally damaging to our children. Don’t be fooled into thinking the internet is the same as watching a lot of TV as you might have done when you were a kid.

Do your own deep dive on the research, and set the best example you can to be present in every moment you can be with your family around you. We've written extensively on this topic. Read more by clicking the post links above and grab your free e-book.