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Description: We have had personal electronics for like ever, right? Weeeellll, the answer is yes ONLY if you were born in 1995 or later and if you were you are probably in college or university now or just starting to figure out your career path in the work world. As members of iGen (i for internet) you exited your preteen years just as smartphones, and through them ongoing instant personal access to social media and other internet facets, became available to everyone with a smart phone, and quite quickly, most of you had such a device (uptake was exponential among all but children and the elderly). The difference was that you everyone else this was a new thing and they would have to figure out how to fir it into their lives whereas for you it was simply what everyone had. I have posted about the developmental and post-secondary life transition issues associated with your developmental immersion in technology and social media recently and will post again in the near future. For now, I would like you to think about the place, role and impacts of personal technologies, smartphones, and social media on your life now and on your development from childhood through to your current situation. But before you start, consider this: one of the most important developmental insights you can gain NOW, as you move into and through emerging adulthood, is that the was things were and are for you as you grew up and now are NOT the same as they were for people even just one generation (10 to 15 years) older than you OR for emerging adults living and growing in other cultural contexts. Thee is no shortlist of those differences mainly because they are woven quite deeply into who you are and into how to understand and view the world around you. So, how to start to gain some of this important developmental perspective? Well, read the article linked below. It will help you have a look back at the way things were for you throughout your later childhood and adolescent years. The article is intended as (research based) advice for parents on the developmental things they should consider doing in relation to the impacts of these relatively new personal technologies on their children’s growth and development. See what it gets you thinking about.

Source: Technoconference: A habit parents should ditch in 2019, Sheri Madigan, Dillon Thomas Browne, and Rachel Eirich, The Conversation.

Date: January 1, 2019

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Can you see some of the developmental carry-forwards from the article in your own life? A long time again (when I was doing my own early development) there were similar concerns raised and advice offered about the potential developmental impacts of television watching. What the advice and strongly supporting research boiled down to was that time spent watching television was time spent NOT doing other things like reading or getting outdoor physical exercise and the drop in those activities had developmental impacts. As such it was recommended that parents limit the amount to time their children spent watching TV to an hour or so a day. We are not yet in a position with available research where we can boil down smartphone and social media use to such a simple statement BUT, there ARE strong indications that smartphone and social media use beyond 2 hours a day seems to be contributing to a significant drop in the amount of face-to-face social interaction people in general and teenagers in particular are engaging in these days. What might THAT mean? …. Well, now that IS something to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some of the ways in which parents’ and children’s electronic devices are impacting family life and child development these days?
  2. What are some of the developmental trajectories (future impacts) of some of the things you noted in responding to question 1 above?
  3. Are there some things you can take away from this article, and your thinking about it, that are suggesting some things you might want to think about regarding your current developmental point in life?

References (Read Further):

The Common Sense Consensus: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology: A National Survey, Center on Media and Human Development,

“Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world.” (2017): 461-468.

Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 158(8), 792-796.