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This Years Hottest Gifts Have Drawbacks

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Kids Use Technology While Dad Reads

Utah families are preparing to ring in the New Year, but some kids may miss the festivities because they can't take their eyes off a screen. Mobile phones and tablets were among the hottest gifts this year, but experts are cautioning parents about the drawbacks of technology. Dr. Ann Lagges, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Indiana University, says there are many positives to electronics, from educational uses to helping kids stay connected with friends – but moderation is key.

"Whenever anything takes up all of somebody’s time," Lagges said. "It becomes their sole focus; it means that other parts of their life are paying the price. So, things like real-world social activities, school work, sleep, physical exercise – things like that."

Lagges suggests parents keep an eye on what their kids are doing online and set some time limits. She said parents should also consider the quality of activity, since working with friends on a school project is very different than playing a violent video game.

Lagges also encourages parents to consider the example they set.

"The parent who has their phone with them all the time," Lagges said. "And responds immediately to every 'bing' is perhaps not sending the best message to their kids about how to keep technology and social media in its proper place."

And while there is no solid evidence that overuse of electronics can cause depression, Lagges warned that social media can exacerbate depression or anxiety. She encourages parents to watch for changes in their child’s behavior.