Paul Heinz

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What’s a Good Dad to Do? How About Set Some Limits?

Last February Dalton Conley wrote an article for TIME Magazine about the way social media are actually changing our children’s brains.  The 7 hours and 38 minutes a day that children ages 8 to 18 spend on entertainment media have altered the brains to “pay more attention to environmental stimuli at the expense of focus,” thereby damaging their young minds’ ability to perform high-level thinking.

Bummer. 

As a concerned parent–not to mention a member of a society that will one day have to take care of me–the article had my attention.

But then the author made a stunning revelation without even highlighting it as a problem. 

He writes in the first person (as all TIME columnists do these days–a very strange trend indeed):

But I am still concerned about the effect that 24/7 connectivity has on my kids-and on my 11-year-old son in particular...So what’s a good dad to do?  I’ve set some rules that are designed to aid his social and cognitive development: no Facebook during school, and no electronic devices after 9:30 p.m.

Did any of you catch his tacit admission (along with his really lame limits)?

Facebook policy clearly states:  If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. If we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13, we will delete that information as quickly as possible.

Where’s the ambiguity here?  Facebook says, “don’t do it.”  The boy's father clearly allowed him to lie about his age to register on Facebook.  What else will his son lie about in the future, with or without his father’s expressed permission? 

As for the limits the father set for his son, they really aren’t limits at all.  No Facebook at school?  Kind of a no-brainer.  And no electronic devices after 9:30 p.m?  Isn’t an 11 year-old likely in bed by that time?  If not, why not, and can you lend me a couple ounces of your patience? 

Look.  I’m not a perfect father.  If any of you are therapists, my children may one day pad your wallets with stories of irrational outbursts, control, snide comments, moodiness, and a propensity to let a Packers loss ruin the day.

But please.  Let’s be grown-ups here.  We can set limits for our children.  Our 11 year-olds don’t need to lie and get onto Facebook.  They’ll be just fine if made to wait until age 13. 

As for 7 hours 38 minutes of entertainment media a day?  I don't even know how to respond to that, unless it's a Sunday NFL double-header.  Then I get it.

Copyright, 2015, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved