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Ubiquity of devices is a lifestyle choice, not an inevitability

As an educator, I understand parents’ feelings of being challenged by their children’s powerful attraction to screen devices (“Advantage, digital youth,” Page A1, Sept. 5). Parents err, however, when claiming helplessness in the area of setting and enforcing limits on household technology.

What parents can do is critically examine the connection between their choices as consumers and the ubiquity of electronic devices in their homes. These devices are the consequence of a series of lifestyle choices, not an inevitability.

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We also must get past the self-perpetuating myth that text-based communication is integral to social connection. As long as parents model and practice conversation and telephone skills with children and facilitate transportation, children will find ways to make plans with friends.

In the after-school program where I work, children prove perfectly adept, when pressed, at finding non-electronic ways to entertain themselves. Allowing children to get bored in a safe and interesting environment (markers and paper are popular multi-age tools) — also known as facilitating self-directed play — is one of the healthiest things adults can do for children.

Maintaining a home relatively free of electronic distractions is crucial to opening this gateway to creative thought, and is therefore a battle worth fighting.

Robbie Hartery


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