Advice: Technology and Kids

Video and Audio

FOX 25 Boston
Setting video game limits for kids

FOX 25 Boston
Is Excessive Texting Tied to Risky Behavior?
Dr. Rao - Are Parents also Addicted to technology?

Setting Video Game Limits [PDF]
Tip by Dr. Rao

Start off on the right foot when giving your children gaming and computer systems as a gift. Set expectations from the start, and encourage healthy use of video and computer games by using this Gaming Agreement.

"The Way of Boys"
Book by Dr. Rao and Michelle Seaton, Excerpt (p.133)

Kids need to encounter [scary true stories] at a measured pace. Young boys, especially those under the age of five, can't understand the reasons for many types of violence or the context for violence. A PG or PG-13 movie or television show late at night that shows shooting and fistfights and other cruelties would be overwhelming for them. Book Info.

Our Lives Out of Balance
Article by Dr. Rao, Excerpt

Solutions to our most complex problems are sometimes strikingly simple. The trick is to first dig deep and uncover the beliefs and assumptions we hold as truths that trap us. Then, and only then, we can shift our viewpoints and expectations a bit, to live life less frenetically. What are some of our beliefs that get us all tied up in knots and make our home life so stressed?

It may come as a surprise to many that we most often chose to live the way we do. We're knee-deep in stress and overwhelmed because we think we have little choice. Certainly, no one wants to face economic hardship, lose opportunities to help their kids succeed, not avail themselves of everything the world has to offerÉ but that's different from pushing the limits of what families can tolerate stress-wise.

Here's what I recommend for American parents under stress, who are doing too much, juggling too many demands, while their kids sit idly by and refuse to help out.

First, shut down all the media. American kids spend upwards of 8 hours a day in front of "screens", none of which adds to their intelligence. Worse, it can lower school performance, cause social problems, and contribute to medical diseases like obesity. Think of computers, television, cell phones, DVD's, Ipods, and gaming devices as a pile of sugar sitting in the living room (or worse on your child's bedroom floor). Ask yourself, is it OK to shovel it in all day? Such media should only be doled out like dessert, in small amounts, provided kids have earned it. School work and helping around the house must come first. Read More.

"The Way of Boys"
Shutting Off Video Games: One Story

Book by Dr. Rao and Michelle Seaton, Excerpt (p.249, pp.253-254)

Kenny often threatened to run away if he didn't get his way. I put a plan in place to help the family stay in control and to empower his parents. It sounded drastic at the time, but once I explained my reasoning, they agreed to try it. I coached them to reach out to their local police department and enlist some reasonable support and help. So many officers like to work with good kids in their communities and use their power and authority to keep them safe, and to remind them to respect their parents and teachers, until these strong-willed kids get through all their powerful and confusing adolescent issues.

"I remember when they threatened me with the cops" he said, "I never believed them. It was over something that I didn't think was a big deal. It was all over my video games, because I wouldn't shut them off when I was supposed to. My parents were probably just fed up with me. And then one day an officer actually came to the house. He came up to my room, knocked on the door, and said to me, 'Get up.' I was lying on my bed in my room. Wow! I was fourteen years old. It was a really rough time back then. I just wanted to leave the house and not come back because I thought my parents were too controlling of my life.

"The cop and I talked. He was really a nice guy actually. He said, 'You have to listen to your parents.' It actually helped me a lot. It put me back in my shoes. I was pretty shaken up by it and felt a bit betrayed, but maybe they were worried about me." Book Info.