JOSE, Calif. ó They limit their kidsí screen time,
set filters on their browsers and banish digital devices
from the dinner table. Then those same parents pick up
their own iPhones to check email, scan Twitter and
update their Facebook statuses.
as they fret that their kids may become device zombies,
parents are setting a lousy example ó and they know
give myself a B-minus or C-plus ó and thatís up from
a solid F at one point," said Jason Miller of San
Jose, about following the personal-device rules he sets
for his children. "The kids have called me out on
it, for which I was grateful."
a product manager for the news and social media
aggregator Flipboard, limits his daughtersí iPad time
to 30 minutes a day, not including music. And yet, he
realizes that the rules for his 12- and 10-year-old kids
not alone. A survey by San Francisco-based Common Sense
Media of 1,800 parents, conducted in July and released
this month, found that parents of teens and Ďtweens
spent more than 9 hours a day on screen media, including
7 hours 43 minutes for personal use. Thatís nearly
every waking minute outside a normal work day ó
although multitasking like checking Instagram while
watching TV racked up double minutes.
Mitchell of Oakland allows her 7-year-old an hour,
broken into two sessions, on her iPad. In return, the
Mitchells gave her policing power over Mommy and Daddy
using their cell phones during family time. "A
7-year-old will point out every single time youíre
breaking the rules," Mitchell said. "You
suddenly become hyper-aware of your usage."
ruefully note that handheld computers, replete with
maps, games, messages, photos, factoids and magic-like
connections, have become an indispensable extension of
our brains and beings.
survey found that most parents of kids 8 to 18 are
concerned about their kidsí social media use,
potential addiction to technology and the erosion of
their sleep time. Two-thirds monitor their childís
survey also found stark ethnic gaps. Latino parents are
more aware and more involved in managing their childrenís
media use and talking with them about it. White parents
were the least involved; African-American parents were
in between and Asian parents, because of their small
sampling size, were not reported separately.
percent of Latino parents, compared with just 43 percent
of white parents, believe their kids spend too much time
online. Well over half of Latino parents fear their kids
share too many personal details, are exposed to images
of violence, may access pornography, sexual images and
reason for the differences is not certain. James P.
Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, applauds
Latino parentsí vigilance. "Theyíre a model for
the rest of us," he said,
the internet may bring into the lives of her four
children "is one of my biggest worries," said
Patricia Lopez of the Bay Area. She occasionally looks
at what other children post online. "Sometimes you
see drugs and photos of them smoking," she said.
"Facebook is scary to me."
and her husband are alert, she said, and her 8-year-old
twins are only allowed to use their school-issued
laptops in the family room.
always try to advise them," she said but realizes
she canít always control what her kids do at friendsí
houses, if parents work, donít monitor kids or allow
them to play violent video games. "We canít
create rules for other houses," she said.
herself has a cellphone, which she uses primarily for
phone calls, photos, and checking her kidsí school
work. She doesnít use a computer and rarely watches
TV. "Iím from an older era," she said,
laughing. "I still use paper and pencil, and keep
my calendar posted in the kitchen," despite her
kidsí suggestion that she put it online.
the push and pull of the internet age is a tough force
Sanchez of San Jose has given her two teenagers
cellphones, but makes it clear that she can check them
at any time. She trusts her daughter, 16, and son, 15,
she said, because she has built a solid relationship
based on good communication.
an office assistant and caregiver, and her husband, a
construction worker, donít have time for Facebook.
They also donít have a TV, but sheíll turn on
Netflix on her phone when cooking or cleaning.
the back of parentsí minds are stories they hear from
friends or others of media-influenced wayward kids.
older son got into video games and played day and
night," said one parent, who did not want her name
published. At first, the parents thought he was doing
homework, and then realized, as he brought home Dís
and Fís, that he was obsessed with gaming. He nearly
didnít graduate from high school, but made it to state
university ó then flunked out.
heís legally an adult, "he really has no
self-control," she said, decrying purposely
addictive electronic games.
lure, plus the wild West of social networks lacking
rules, acutely worry parents.
worry a lot about etiquette online," said Janis
Wright of San Jose. "The idea that being rude is
being truthful is a horrible fallacy."
the familyís tablet computers are set to run out of
battery power after about an hour ó which means itís
time for her sons, ages 5 and 8, to do something else.
a freelance designer, tells them the time limits are
designed to ensure their brains work better. "I try
to explain the cognitive theory behind it ó why you
have to do different things different ways, like doing
handwriting as well as typing."
yet, like many vigilant parents, Wright concedes sheís
not always the best role model: "Iím on Facebook
far too much."