Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Healthy Use of Electronics

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Healthy Use of Electronics

Article excerpt

Latino parents raising children now face a new challenge: determining the role electronics will play in their family's life. Like too much of any good thing, electronics - cell phones, iPods, iPads, computers and gaming systems - can become a source of family stress. Intentional decisions can help Hispanic families manage the expense, competition, jealousy and obsession that often result from increased use of e-gadgets.

Typically, parents start out buying electronics to help their children learn and to have fun. Children from Latino families of modest means want the latest cell phones, e-toys and games just like other children do, so parents might find themselves wanting to please their children yet unable to comfortably afford it. This presents a good opportunity to teach children and adolescents lessons about money. Instead of just caving in to their children's demands for more e-gadgets, parents are wise to include the children in distinguishing their electronics needs and wants (yes, Papá wants an Xbox for the latest racing games, but Junior needs a laptop for school). From there, parents should develop a plan for such expenditures and determine the conditions under which electronics will be used.

For Latino parents with multiple demands and busy relatives who provide child care for grandchildren, TV and video games are often the fastest way to occupy a noisy brood. In the long run, though, no one benefits from that quick solution.

After more than two hours a day of "screen time" (viewing or interacting with any device with a screen), young children often have difficulty paying attention, obeying adults or following directions. For many, extended screen time diminishes their desire and tolerance for people and activities away from the screen. For other children, excessive screen time results in aggression and defiance. The quickest way to get a rapt child's attention (whether the child is 6 or 60) is to turn the gadget or machine off.

Ironically, some electronic tools that purportedly enhance a person's learning can actually serve to limit it. With children, passive viewing does not engage the child with other people directly, yet it is that active interpersonal engagement through which children learn the most, intellectually and socially. Even though video games might be "interactive" or "educational," the child is receiving feedback from a machine. …

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