Thursday, December 23, 2010

From a Child Psychiatrist: Holiday Shopping Advice for Parents Buying Holiday Tech Toy Gifts for Kids

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What tech gifts will you be giving your kids this year and why?

This year more than ever, kids will be expecting technology devices as holiday or Christmas gifts.   However, at the same time, parents fear the negative impact of such presents for their children.

Dr. Eitan Schwarz, an Illinois child and adolescent psychiatrist with expertise in technology’s impact on family life, sees benefits if the devices are managed properly to provide educational growth and enhance family relationships.

Dr. S, as he is known to his young patients, says parents can actually turn this holiday season into the start of a promising new chapter in how technology works in their homes by following a few simple guidelines.

Moms and Dads can and should take a more positive and active role in your child's tech toy use by 
  • Thinking of all tech devices as home appliances that will bring value to family life and child development if purchased and utilized smartly.
  • Creating an individualized media plan for each child that includes both limits and the benefits of growth opportunities: better family relationships, socialization, building of values and character traits, and education enrichment.
  • Making entertainment only a minor part of the media plan. Avoid any device that does not serve family- and child-centered aims or provides only entertainment, especially if it will isolate the child with the device.
  • Scheduling time to participate with your child and put limits of time and place for its use (or use negotiation with older children).
  • Applying your new approach gradually to all other tech devices kids use  (TV, iPods, iPads, smart phones, etc.)
Dr. Eitan Schwarz elaborates on how to create a media plan and other steps to effect a positive tech environment for your child in his new book, Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families.

What tech gifts will you be buying for your kids this year? Please share your choices with us as a comment, explaining why you chose what you did for your family.

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