Technology is a part of our children’s generation, for better or worse. With newer, faster, and more capable electronic devices coming out each year, we are immersed in technology at home, school, and work. Mixed in with educational benefits are risks. Research has observed the mental health value of unplugging and the dangers of unrestricted time spent in front of a screen for kids of all ages. As such, parents can feel “tech shamed” for allowing their children to use electronic devices.
Is technology an all-or-nothing proposition? It’s time to reframe the conversation.
This week, Cricket Media – the most award-winning children’s magazine publisher in the marketplace – and Parents’ Choice Foundation – the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys – have launched the KEEPING TECH IN CHECK (KTIC) campaign. The year-round initiative strives to help families achieve “a balance, not a ban.” Its website, KeepingTechinCheck.com, provides a robust set of tools, tips and resources to assist families in finding the right balance between online and offline time.
Unlike similar efforts that focus only on “unplugging,” as a parent I really appreciate that KEEPING TECH IN CHECK recognizes that screens are a part of our society. My daughter’s school provides iPads and Chrome Books to assist with educational development. I limit her screen time at home, but when she’s with friends they often bring their electronic devices to play with. I don’t think technology is bad in an absolute sense. I’m okay with her having exposure to it. After all, the future careers for my daughter’s generation will almost certainly require technological skills. So just like everything in life, moderation is key.
The premise behind the KEEPING TECH IN CHECK campaign realizes this, and that’s why the initiative wants to help parents mindfully manage screen-time as an intentional part of a daily activities. The website gives parents the information they need to navigate and manage technology guilt-free in ways that work for them. Cricket Media’s deep archive of award-winning magazine content drives much of the site which includes stories, downloadable activities, news and current research. A dedicated blog will feature expert advice and real-life ideas for activities on balancing tech mindfully.
I really like how the site offers an “Ages” menu option that breaks down age groups into 0-3 year, 3-6 years, 6-9 years, and 9+ years. I have two children born several years apart so their needs are different. The menu makes it easy for me to find age-appropriate information quickly.
Among the site’s features include:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics Media Use Planner and Media Calculator (both kids and parents will be able to monitor their tech use with these planners)
- Downloadable content from Cricket Media’s award-winning magazines, designed for ages 3 months to 14+ years
- Advice from experts and peers, including a regularly updated blog written by Cricket Media editors, parents and other experts, sharing seasonal and topical ideas for screen-free activities including “Out of the Box” ideas to unplug. Guest bloggers offer real-life examples of unplugged fun for various ages
- Programs designed to focus families on achieving their goals together, including a summer reading program; the Smithsonian Institute sponsored Folklife Challenge and Invent It Challenge; and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Yang’s Reading without Walls Challenge
- Mini Printable Books – Colorfully illustrated tales by top authors and artists, aimed at a variety of age levels
- Printable Activities – Enjoy conversation starters, scavenger hunts, recipes, party ideas, ad-lib word games, writing prompts, and brain teasing games for the whole family
- Parents’ Choice Family Adventures Map
- Subscription discounts to the 11 ad-free and multiple award-winning Cricket Media magazines for various ages and interests: ASK, BABY BUG, CLICK, CICADA, COBBLESTONE, CRICKET, DIG, FACES, LADYBUG, MUSE, and SPIDER
Check out KEEPING TECH IN CHECK and let us know what you think!