Challenges of parenting "Generation A"
It’s a new term to describe children who were born after 2010. They are the children of millennials. And they live in a world where smartphones and the internet have always existed.
Experts say that’s important because all the technology brings challenges for parents, including a risk of addiction.
Kids born after 201 have phones in their faces almost immediately after they’re born. Their parents are taking pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook.
Experts warn, if you aren’t careful, that could grow into a technology addiction that makes it difficult for kids to interact with other kids.
“There is a certain type of addictive piece to playing a game, getting rewards, passing certain levels, and it's just more fun than real life,” said Kalee Beal, who works with kids in the autism community at Heartspring.
She says now, even kids who don’t have autism are facing some of the same developmental challenges because of the technology in front of them.
“We cannot compete with technology,” Beal said. “Technology is going to be way cooler than I am ever going to be.”
Kids are leaning on Alexa devices for homework help, rather than asking a parent.
“Kids are being led to believe that technology is more factual and concrete and there's less chance of Alexa being incorrect than there is mom or dad,” said Beal.
The only behavioral addiction recognized by the medical community is gambling, but Beal says that could change.
“The World Health Organization has been discussing the concept of video game addiction and it would not surprise me in the next few years if it does become a diagnose-able thing,” Beal said.
Kids spend a lot of time on the internet, and mimic what they see.
“I've got kids i can hear singing different jingles, repeating different commercials, and instead of playing out things that we used to play like fairy tales and playing house, now they're acting out YouTube videos and commercials.”
Butm, Beal says it's not all concerning. That’s because this behavior isn’t far from what millennials did when they were kids, just a few decades before.
“It’s not any different than how we were when we were kids. it just feels different because it's a portable screen instead of the giant TV I had with a VCR,” Beal said.
Beal offered some tips for parents.
First, she says technology is a great positive behavior enforcer, as long as you set limits. And, when time is up, take the device away.
She says games requiring problem-solving and strategy can be good for development, but parents should download the game and play it themselves before handing the tablet over to their children.
Parents should know if kids can chat with others through the game, which could expose them to danger.
Beal says kids are very tech savvy, and if you set up parental controls, they may find a way to disable or work around them.
She recommends looking through devices often to make sure your child didn’t tamper with safety settings.