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February 8, 2013

Kids in a Grown Up World

by Tracy Jensen

My daughter is 10 now, and like many kids, she enjoys playing games on the Internet. Her buddies have also started to join sites where they can create profiles and play together. Since she is getting more into this type of thing, I have been doing some research, and it turns out that in spite of the stated minimum age of 13, more than 1/3 of all 11-year-olds have a Facebook account.

There is a lot of information out there about the privacy and safety risks that come with this type of Internet usage by kids, who are essentially being treated like adults on Facebook. But there are other issues for younger kids that may be getting less attention. Think about this: How many adults do you know who complain they themselves spend too much time on Facebook, Tumbler, Pinterest, or other social sites? Kids naturally have less self-control than adults, so their use of socially engaging sites really puts them at risk of developing some unhealthy habits.

It’s really important to limit screen time for children so they can develop a routine of regular exercise and learn to live an active lifestyle. Also, time spent interacting online is time spent NOT interacting with family and friends in person, where you can really talk about your feelings and be understood. If you want to encourage the kids to cut screen time, a great tip I read was to unplug yourself! What ways are you and your family going unplugged?

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