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Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

The ‘electronic elephant’ in the living room


In a column for The Wall Street Journal that I read on March 17, Demetria Gallegos wrote about the “electronic elephant” in her living room. She’s referring to the “huge amount of time our girls spend online, captivated by games, shows and Web surfing.”

I understand and share her concern when it comes to my grandkids. Our granddaughter and her 4-year-old brother spend lots of time sitting indoors watching videos or with faces glowing before little hand-held electronics. This contrasts to my childhood, spent largely outdoors exploring nature, interacting with neighbors and learning about the real world.

Gallegos shared suggestions for taming this electronic monster. The family’s first step was to let school performance dictate the amount of freedom to use computers at home.

Gallegos urges parents not to be oblivious. Her family canceled a Netflix subscription after checking out the kids’ browser history. She also suggested treating children individually because each is a different age and maturity level; communicating clearly; giving kids a change to earn autonomy; and that parents must model an appropriate amount of time spent on computers.

She was surprised when her 14-year-old daughter recently suggested a computer-free day. Gallegos was delighted at this suggestion of a “digital detox.”