Elise Potts picked up her 17-month-old daughter, Eliza, from daycare recently. When they got home they were greeted by a strange scene.
“My husband … he’s waving his arms around like a crazy man.” Potts says. “He has these things in his hands, he has a black box on his face … and [Eliza] looks and she points, all confused, and she says, ‘Daddy?’ ”
Daddy, it turned out, had a new Oculus virtual reality headset.
Potts, who lives in Seattle, can’t help but wonder what her daughter is making of all the digital technology that surrounds her. Eliza’s reaction, she says, is “really cute, but it’s also terrifying, because I think of it from her perspective. What does that mean to her?”
It’s a good question. The mobile tech revolution is barely a decade old, and it brings special challenges to parents and caregivers, says pediatrician Jenny Radesky, who sees patients at the University of Michigan and is one of the top researchers in the field of parents, children and new media.
“The telephone took decades to reach 50 million global users, and we had Pokémon Go do that within, like, two and a half weeks,” Radesky says. “So we all feel like we’ve been blown over by a tidal wave of all this new stuff.”
Most of us feel like we’re failing, at least at times, to manage the competing bids for attention that come from work, kids, partners and from our digital devices.
While she doesn’t want to come off as “judgy of parents,” Radesky and other experts shared four takeaways from the research that can guide parents who want to improve their relationships both with their kids and with technology.
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