Parents learn how to balance media, home life at Saturday class

Parents learn how to balance media, home life at Saturday class

Parents, did you know that a recent study shows youth spend one-fourth of every day using digital devices (DD)? That's seven hours per day!

That figure sounds crazy, but all too true according to Youth Eastside Services parenting expert Jennifer Watanabe. She led last night's class at the Bellevue Square Microsoft Store called "Parental Guidance for the Digital Family: Learning to balance media use in your house." The free class will be held again at the Microsoft Store on Saturday from 1-2 p.m.

"We are living in the Wild West when it comes to parenting in this new era," said Watanabe to the Eastside parents in attendance. "As a result, the issue is how to create a parenting plan for digital issues."

After sharing a brief overview of parenting as discussed by Jane Nelson in her book "Positive Discipline," Watanabe noted that parents need to utilize an authoritative/positive plan that embraces both freedom and rules, "Parents need to establish an ally relationship with their children that not only fosters the child talking and sharing with the parent, but one that builds lifelong communication."

Watanabe discussed many parts of the DD balancing act including: allowing access, monitoring, parental belief system and being mindful of child development.

In terms of child development, she noted that some 70 percent of kids have a television in their bedrooms. These children score lower than others in a number of arenas. But even more illuminating was the slide that said that the brain is not mature until age 24/25.

Watanabe also offered links to more information about parenting in the digital age and a Microsoft employee shared tips on how to use Microsoft safety resources.

In summary, Watanabe underscored the importance of parents setting boundaries (rules) when it comes to using digital devices.

"Stay current with trends, use common sense and limit the time children are allowed to use media to less than two hours per day for children older than age two," emphasized Watanabe. "For children two and under avoid screen time altogether."