“Ban Russian Bots.” The words shone brightly projected across Twitter headquarters. Not long after, a listener of NPR’s 1a wrote: “Wish there was a national movement, like a Quit Facebook day. If they lost a million plus U.S. users in 1 day, it would give reformers inside the company the momentum they need.” Then came the medical community. At a research summit on how technology affects kids, a health policy expert issued a call to action: “Urge companies to first Do No Harm.”
It’s happening. People are finally realizing technology doesn’t always operate in our best interests and they’re doing something about it.
Being online can be so useful and entertaining it’s easy to forget what screens don’t do to help kids grow up to be self-reliant, durable adults. In fact, many tech-savvy school kids are doing strange things like losing their balance on chairs, accidentally bumping into kids in the hallways, and being more prone to cry when frustrated. Occupational therapy researcher Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, also reports that core strength among children has plummeted. A big reason? They just don’t get enough rough and tumble.
Parents want to raise well-rounded kids who are comfortable in their own skin and with navigating in the natural and digital worlds. These advice books help parents and other care-givers to achieve that goal or to care for themselves in the process.
Author Devorah Heitner is thoroughly respectful of both sides of the equation and never talks down to, judges, or belittles anyone. Her book is chock-full of practical use-‘em-now tips and she gently instructs and builds the confidence of kids’ first and best digital mentors: their parents. This book doesn’t just skim the surface, it gets gritty and granular, supplying the words and tools we all need.
Among Heitner’s most important points:
Choose mentoring your child over simply monitoring what they do online.
Have clear, consistent boundaries and explain them to your kids.
Pay attention when your kids need you, or as Heitner says, “Be here now.” Why that’s absolutely crucial.
Not far from downtown Washington, D.C., kids perch on tree branches, dig in the sand, and busily port sticks from one place to another. An adult rests on a swinging bench while someone else sniffs a drift of coriander. This is Constitution Gardens, a different kind of park.
It all started with a competition. The city council of Gaithersburg, Maryland wanted to enliven a sliver of public land that had devolved over the years into a dull, little-used cut-through. The renovation should reflect the many new cultures that now infuse the locale. The new park would be an antidote for what Last Child In The Woods author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder,” a malaise that settles over children when they don’t have enough time outside. Continue reading →