News Column

Tips for Healthy Technology Use By Kids

May 28, 2013
kids and tech

Trying to find a healthy balance when it comes to technology and children?

Jeremy Brueck, director of the Digital Text Initiative at the University of Akron's Center for Literacy, provided some tips for parents to make sure children are exercising their brains by using technology appropriately.

The Digital Text Initiative, called DigiTXT for short, is a partnership among the University of Akron College of Education Center for Literacy and the Coventry, Green and Tallmadge school districts to increase information and communication technology use among Summit County students, teachers and administrators.

Here are seven of Brueck's suggestions:

1. Establish age-specific rules and stick with them before giving children access to mobile devices.

Brueck made his 13-year-old twins sign a "Responsible Use" agreement he drafted.

2. Have a "work before play" rule.

During the summer, require children to finish chores or practice instruments before using mobile devices.

3. Set screen time rules and "dark" times when devices must be shut off.

In some families, for example, children are banned from having electronic devices at the dinner table. Children can be encouraged to come up with a list of alternative activities when devices must be turned off, such as playing outdoors or reading.

4. Don't rely entirely on built-in controls.

"This is important, not only in terms of censoring content, but also for financial reasons," Brueck said in a news release. "The best system is for kids to ask for permission to purchase an app, and then for parents to review and approve the request."

5. Consider giving children a pre-loaded gift card so they have a set amount of money to buy apps.

Watch out for free apps that contain ads and in-app purchases.

6. Teach kids to take responsibility and care for the devices.

7. Research apps before you buy them.

He estimated eight out of 10 free apps end up being "duds."

These online communities for parents and teachers provide app reviews from professional educators:

Melanoma event

The nonprofit Melanoma Education Initiative will premiere its documentary film The M Word during a free event at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Hudson Library and Historical Society, 96 Library St.

The documentary features the stories of several patients who have battled melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The film was created with the help of the University of Akron's ZTV and edited by Nick Zaklanovich.

Melanoma Education Initiative's mission is to educate the public about melanoma.

Since 2011, the organization has taught nearly 10,000 middle school and high school students statewide about skin cancer. The initiative also provides information at corporate wellness events.

For more information, go online to

Water safety

With summer coming, families throughout the region will be heading to pools and lakes to keep cool.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death of children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each year, more than 1,000 children drown in lakes, pools and boating accidents.

Akron Children's Hospital shared these tips to keep kids safe in and around water:

--Enroll children in swimming lessons. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lessons for all children age 4 and older.)

--Never leave a child near a pool unattended. For children younger than 5, keep them at arm's length at all times.

--Teach children to always swim with a partner.

--Enclose pools with a latched safety fence at least 4 feet high with slats no more than 4 inches apart.

--Learn CPR and post CPR instructions in the pool area.

--Don't use "water wings" and other air-filled swimming aids as a substitute for supervision.

--Keep toys away from the pool when it's not in use, so young children aren't attracted to the area.

--Don't allow children to dive into above-ground pools. Check the water depth of in-ground pools before permitting diving.

--Establish pool rules and post them near the pool. Don't allow running or horseplay.

Source: (c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters