Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Big Connection - Technology As a Tool for Interaction Between Parents and Children

By Anna M.

Times in the Age of Balance: non-digital homemade clock madeBy D.M.  at 2015 Galileo Summer Camp
If you are here reading this is because you have a computer, are online, and probably have a smart phone. Also, if you are looking at this screen now it is because the web is where you frequently search for useful content that might help you to be wiser in any front of your life. Including about all challenges that parenting entails in a digital loaded system with easy access. Also, if you are _ at this moment _ connected, it's because you are fully living in our Digital Era.

At this very moment my children are connected too. One of the boys is online researching documents for a project on the fantastic movie Back to the Future while the other is watching a PBS show which I happen to love, Wild Kratts. We all talk about our "surfing trips" to the web and also about what we are searching online. But we also disconnect and enjoy life going camping and walking on the forest. While I am writing this post, I share the news with them:  the American Academy of Pediatrics just released a new document revising its standards about digital exposure, confirming what I was always suspecting.  "In a world where “screen time” is becoming simply “time,” our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle.", says the document Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to advise families on media use., released last week by the AAP.

The point that really caught my attention is the Academy's interest in improving quality parent-child interaction using technology, and not pretending that it is solely an evil thing, lurking on to capture our children and turn them into screen-zombies, if goes out of control. And it points out that who is really responsible to educate the kids about the conscientious use of technology are really the parents: "Experts agreed that parents can model appropriate technology use to their children. Parent-led family media plans should include clear boundaries about children’s media content (including TV) from an early age as well as sound time management practices fostering life balance. Parents should let their children teach them about media and participate with them. Media should be viewed as a tool rather than a babysitter, reward, or punishment. Parents’ ability to connect with their children offline is crucial, as well.", points the whole document written after many specialists got together, see the whole document here:
Growing Up Digital.

We believe there are lots of possibilities when using technology to facilitate the parent-child dialogue, like what POVI app does (download the app from here) does. And we are positive that the app can help parenting with creative technology, once they assist their children to make the best use of it.  This might sound difficult for some parents who grew up having to learn and adapt to all that happened in the last 40 years. Mostly, it's a generation of people who witnessed a fast revolution that moved us from the typewriter to the computer screen, the landline telephones to the wireless phones, etc etc etc. It's a generation who had to learn that the  hard way that TV was not a babysitter and that interaction is the key for new entertainment.

According to Common Sense Media,  more than 30% of U.S. children played with a mobile device when they were still babies. Also, 75% of 13- to 17-year-olds have smartphones, and 24% admit using their phones almost constantly, according to the Pew Research Center. "All of us, including children use it as a resource for their education. Multimedia data - text, voices, videos allow knowledge to be stored, shared and absorbed in the most optimal ways. With the connected world, from the comfort of our home, by the beach, anywhere, we can learn anything we want, as much as we want. ", says Seow Lim, POVI's Founder and CEO. She shares more about her own family: "For example, my teen son is very much into computer hardware recently. By self-teaching himself, he built his own PC, he helps others build PCs, he has figured out how to remote lock in to his desk top from his smartphone when he is in school by hacking the BIOS of his computer. Yes, my son had flourished in technology because he loves it, and now spending lots more time on it without having extra reading, writing and vocab classes that I used to send him to (read about my change of parenting that allow my kid to fly)", says Lim.

POVI Psychology PHD, Daphna Ram explains about the difference in the understanding we have about the digital media: " I don't think the problem is screen time per se, but more the way the screen time is being used. The problem isn't with the devices themselves.", she writes.
"My initial thoughts are for parents to use the technology as a way to get close to their children; use it as a way to learn together, to bring up points of discussion, etc. I think the key is to use apps and screen time not necessarily always as a way to "babysit" the children, but perhaps as a tool to make it easier to interact with your children.".

That said sounds like we are, at the end, just looking for balance. I remember the first pediatrician I met in New York, who was caring for my first son in 2004. He always told me the key for a successful parenting would be to try to have balance in everything, and not depriving my child of any of the mainstream treats (being candies, TV or constructive games), so to avoid that he would grow resentful and therefore prone to overdo any of the things when he would leave home for a dorm. I am sure he is right. As Lim sums up, there's time for everything while we are spending quality time with our children: "Technology and our daily lives can be balanced. We must take advantage of all the convenience, the vast knowledge that technology brings to our fingertips and make us more efficient. At the same time, we can also ensure that we have time to unplug, disconnected from the electronics world, and simply connect with each other. Povi is here to give a little help, a little tip, a little reminder when you need it."

More about the good technology:

1. Don't miss this article: "Don't beat yourselves up about how much TV your kids watch : Computer games and TV shows are a vehicle for conversation and interaction and are a worthwhile endeavor for the skills and cultural literacy they impart", by Lauren Apfel Guardian UK

2.The CDC (Center for Disease Control) issued a very simple document to help parents who are concerned about their children online life: read here.

3. Common Sense Media has a myriad of resources to help on guiding parents about the digital era and education. Check it out here.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at anna@povi.me to catch up anytime!


  1. Totally agree. Balancing is the key of happiness.

  2. Intelligent summary of "good use" of technology, balanced view.