by Mark Ollig
“Quit watching so much television. Go outside and play.”
How many of us as children remember hearing this after sitting motionless for too many hours in front of the television screen?
After a momentary frown, I would usually go outside to ride my bike, throw the baseball around, or participate in a “Kick the Can” game with my siblings and the neighborhood kids.
When yours truly was growing up, there were, of course, no cellphones for my parents to call or text me on when I needed to come home.
Back then, mom or dad would remind me to “come home when the streetlights go on.”
Today, parents are still concerned about their kids spending too much time in front of a screen.
The results of a survey conducted to learn about mothers’ attitudes regarding the use of digital technology by their kids, was recently published.
The Personal Device Perception Survey was prepared for Touchjet (http://www.touchjet.com) by The Hoffman Agency (http://www.hoffman.com), with cooperation from Instantly (https://www.instant.ly).
This survey asked mothers age 25 to 54, 15 questions concerning technology and their child’s use of it.
The answers revealed some interesting perceptions by the mothers about technology’s effect on their children, and their families.
Feeling they are losing their kids to the digital screens on cell phones, iPads, tablets, and video games, was the response of 71 percent of the moms surveyed.
One question found 79 percent believing too much digital screen time could have a harmful effect on their child’s vision.
Another question revealed 89 percent worry about the amount of time their kids spend in front of a screen.
One question raised in the survey was about kids spending too much free time alone with their computing tablets, smartphones, and video games.
Some 84 percent are concerned devices and technologies are jeopardizing kids’ social skills.
The survey also revealed an alarming 92 percent agreeing the use of digital screens is an “epidemic in our society.”
This high percentage indicates to me their belief children are spending too much time alone with tech devices, and not enough time perusing other activities, and being with people.
However, answers to other survey questions suggest the moms do understand the benefits of having technology in classrooms, within families, and in a workplace.
Use of technology and devices, if used by kids for school purposes, was approved by 96 percent of the moms surveyed.
The support of technology, when used to help bring families closer together was acknowledged by 94 percent.
Allowing more time on devices/technology because it will be important for college and work was favored by 67 percent
When asked how they prefer to have their child spending their free time, the moms responded; 62 percent playing sports, 79 percent reading, and 89 percent playing outdoors.
Other suggestions receiving 7 percent agreement included: refining their motor skill activities, working on puzzles, and playing with friends, siblings, and “regular toys,” such as blocks.
I was surprised at seeing “playing video games,” was selected by 16 percent, while 17 percent agreed they prefer to have their child “watching videos” with their free time.
The survey does not indicate moms have a problem with technology itself.
This is supported by the 94 percent who agreed they would be interested in technology that brings kids and families together.
The last question asked the moms was if they preferred having their child using a “one-to-one” computing device; such as a computing tablet when in school, or if their child should instead participate in an interactive group device; such as a classroom touchscreen smart projector.
Having their child partake in an interactive group device was chosen by 58 percent, while 42 percent chose a one-to-one device.
A breakdown of the age groups participating in this survey: 44 percent, or 456 responses, from age 25-34; 37 percent, or 383 responses, by the 35-44 year olds; and 18 percent, or 188 responses, were obtained from the 45-54 year olds.
Being curious why the survey did not include the dads’ opinions, I contacted The Hoffman Agency.
“We wanted to focus in on perceptions held by moms for this first survey. We are planning additional surveys in the coming months around perceptions held by dads, and then families overall,” the spokesperson told me.
The survey brings to light how kids might want to try balancing their time using technology with other activities; including spending more time with people, and enjoying the outdoors.
Maybe they could even start up a neighborhood game of Kick the Can.