The Family Project: Screen time and encouraging son’s skills
Q. My son is in elementary school and is really into computers and his iPad. How do I encourage him to pursue this interest as a career, while continuing to be a good parent, and limit his access to the computer?
There is a difference between playing games and using learning modules,” panelist Pam Wallace said.
“If he starts creating things or spends time learning how things work, that is different,” said Wallace.
“No matter what you are doing, screen time changes the brain,” said panelist Mike Daniels.
“Too much time on the computer also is physically draining,” said Daniels. He said he has seen children go into rages after two or three hours of being focused on the computer screen.
Panelist Chad Stefanyak said that when a person uses a computer screen only the ears and eyes are exercised.
“So much of the body needs to be exercised by growing children that there needs to be boundaries to leave time for more physical activities,” Stefanyak said.
Panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo said that computers seem to be able to manipulate a person compared to the person sitting passively in front of a television.
Daniels said that most children watch video games and YouTube, which mostly involves passive learning.
Panelist Mike Ramsey said the parent seems to believe that she can’t limit screen time and also encourage the son to develop computer skills. Ramsey said the boy could learn about computer programming. For example, he said Apple stores offer coding classes for children.
Panelist Denise Continenza said that even though the boy is only in elementary school, the parent is already planning his career.
“Encourage him to explore all kinds of options. This is the perfect age for him to establish patterns of computer use and accept boundaries for other activities that hopefully will stay with him the rest of his life,” said Continenza.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; and Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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