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The Upside of Digital Devices: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart, Literate, and Emotionally Intelligent Paperback – May 1, 2018

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nicole Dreiske is an education innovator whose techniques for accelerated learning have reached 500,000 children and 3600 educators nationwide. Her TEDx Chicago talk premieres September 2020. In The Upside of Digital Devices, recipient of The National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval, Nicole provides parents with simple, practical instructions and a variety of tools for creating critical thinking skills and mindful viewing habits that can transform the way their children use technology throughout their lives.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Know What Your Kids Are Watching

If you have kids, at one time or another you've probably said this to a friend, relative, or teacher: 'Limiting TV isn't the problem. I know the limits. But what do I talk about after they've seen the show?'

Or this: 'My husband and I can't be everywhere and see everything they see. What do we say when they get upset about something that we don't even know about?'

Or perhaps you've said this: 'I try to talk to my two littlest about what they're watching, but they don't want to discuss it with me. What am I doing wrong? How do I get them to talk to me? What do I say?'

Sound familiar? You're not alone. What's the problem? Is it that your kids are spending too much time on screens? Maybe yes, maybe no. According to the Nielsen ratings, our youngest children (ages two to five) spend twenty-eight to thirty-one hours a week―between fourteen hundred and sixteen hundred hours a year―with their eyes glued to a screen, immersed in some form of visual content.1

While you may think that's too much, the intent of this book is not to argue how many hours of screen time your kids should have. That's a decision for you as a parent, knowing your child and balancing issues like family time, school, and recommendations of trusted advisors like pediatricians. But it can't be denied that this amount of screen time has a significant impact on parenting, particularly when it comes to understanding and interacting with our children. If we don't understand how a child is responding to what they're watching (or playing), then we don't understand that child, because they spend more time with screens than they do with any other activity outside of sleep.

Developing a real understanding of your child's responses during screen time takes skills that you already have. When my niece was seven years old, she was watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her thirteen-year-old brother and a couple of his friends in my mother's study. I didn't know what they were watching, but after about twenty minutes she came out of the study with her little brow furrowed, and said, 'Auntie 'Cole, when I watch TV with the big kids, I get afraid for my grown-up life.'

I had heard her laughing and giggling from the other room and assumed everything was fine. Was I wrong! She needed to talk and she wanted someone to listen. So I stopped what I was doing and walked with her to the porch. There, I started asking questions and listening to her answers.

'What were you watching?' I asked.

'Buffy, and there was killing and screaming. People were scared.'

'People in the show or people watching?

'People in the show.'

'So you get scared when the characters, the people in the show, are scared.'

She nodded, looking forlorn, and I leaned down and opened my arms.

'Would it help if you sat on my lap for a hug?' I offered.

After she nodded, I took her on my lap in the rocking chair, and we started rocking.

'So why do you think the characters in the show were scared?'

'Sometimes no one can help them,' said my niece.

'Wow, you're right. It would be scary if no one could help you. But is that true, sweetie? Is it true for you that no one can help you?'

'Sometimes at school. My teacher says I'm not smart and no one can help me.' Ouch! Here I had to wait a beat and absorb what she had said.

'I see why you're scared,' I said. 'So I'm going to make you a promise. Any time there's something for school or anything else you need help with, I'll help you. Or Grandma or Daddy or Mommy will help you. We want to help. All you have to do is let us know, sweetie, can you do that?'

I'm truly grateful that she came to me and we were able to talk things out; otherwise, I can't be sure how it might have impacted her. My niece opened up to me because she felt comfortable. I paid attention to my approach, tone, and tempo when drawing out the details of her experience, and I genuinely cared about what she had to say.

Chloe's story brings us to a topic that affects many parents. While this book provides many techniques for young children, what do you do when there are big age differences between children watching together? In some families, the access to tablets and smart phones has made this less of an issue because the older children can play games or watch different content on their devices while the younger ones watch age-appropriate content. But for times when the age differences between your young digital natives may still pose a challenge, see special tips in Chapter 13.

Active Listening

So let's look at the bigger picture of adult-child communications. It won't surprise you to learn that the best adult-child communications start with active listening, an accessible skill that turns you into a super parent. Although it's often associated with counseling and conflict resolution, it's a skill every parent needs. Plus, as a parent, with active listening you're ahead of the game from the start because you don't need to take several sessions to learn the trigger points, temperament, and background of your child, the way a therapist would with a client.

Active listening is a way of listening and responding that promotes shared understanding and builds better relationships. It starts with the goal of truly understanding the feelings and ideas of the child, something to which every parent aspires. How many times have we listened with 'half an ear' and assumed we know what the child is saying? Active listening replaces both those behaviors with a simple strategy that will yield greater closeness and far more effective parent-child communication.

In active listening, you'll want to:

Concentrate. Give the child your full attention.

Understand. Don't assume you know; listen with an open mind.

Respond. While the child is speaking, nod and show your attentiveness, then respond verbally once you've fully understood.

Remember, by tracking the course of the conversation, you demonstrate that you really were listening, and your verbal responses will be more specific and effective. The reason it's important to concentrate and understand is so that responding can become a dynamic process. Some of the ways you'll respond will involve:





I'll include a list of books on active listening, and many of the scripts that I'll include in this book model these steps.2

There are many hidden benefits to active listening. For example, it conveys to our children that we value what they say and that we value their opinions, even when those opinions may differ from our own. This is a confidence-builder for children and encourages independent thought. In the 'remember and respond' phases, active listening also generates a free flow of ideas, not only facilitating exchange and sharing, but allowing parents and children to appreciate the differences and connections between their ideas. But first we need to be able to get our children to talk to us!

©2018 Nicole Dreiske. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Upside of Digital Devices: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart, Literate, and Emotionally Intelligent. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Health Communications Inc; 1st edition (May 1, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 264 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0757320473
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0757320477
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

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