As more adults and children want or already have a cell phone, tablet or other device, families may begin to wonder: How much technology is too much – or not enough? This is a decision every parent needs to make, say the Science of Parenting bloggers from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
family members around a table each using an electronic device
“We have these technology devices because they’re useful and they’re fun,” said Lori Hayungs, a human sciences specialist in family life.

“Our phones, tablets and computers give us a direct connection to all kinds of information, games and entertainment, and communicating with family and friends. The technology also provides opportunities for learning,” Hayungs said.

According to the National Education Association, in order for today’s students to compete globally, they need 21st century skills: They have to be able to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically.

“Understanding how to use technology can help kids, and parents, build these skills. However, screen time can get out of control at any age,” Hayungs said.

“The technology we have access to has the potential to help us, if we are disciplined enough to know when to use it and when to put it down, and interact with the people around us. As they say, everything in moderation, and that includes technology too,” added Barbara Dunn Swanson, also a human sciences specialist in family life.

“Just because a particular technology is available, doesn’t mean you have to embrace it. As a parent, you have the final say in what and how much technology comes into your home,” Swanson said.

This month the Science of Parenting Bloggers will discuss how technology can be family friendly, how to support the positive use of social media with family members, and how to set boundaries for a healthy balance of technology and face-to-face social interaction.

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