NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Digital Devices - Two Sides to Every Coin

Digital Devices - Two Sides to Every Coin  01/24/20Digital devices can play an important role in the daily lives of teenagers.  On one side of the coin are potential benefits such as:

- Connecting with friends and feeling a sense of belonging

- Building friendships

- Gaining autonomy

- Serving as behavior change agents, such as for fitness platforms and apps

On the flip side of the coin are the negative impacts such as:

  • Reducing the ability for the brain to retain information
  • Decreasing face-to-face communication and social communication skills
  • Increasing mental exhaustion
  • Reducing social interactions in families
  • Increasing irregular sleep patterns

Being actively involved in their children’s lives helps parents serve as a buffer for them.  Parents learning about social media helps them be prepared to provide adequate support for their children, and providing such support greatly reduces the harmful effects related to using digital devices.

Research shows that teenagers are less exposed to harmful online content as well as internet addiction when parents monitor their online activities at home.

The age of 13 years is the recommended minimum age for use of all digital devices.  This is in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which sets 13 years as the minimum age for youth to have social media accounts.  Common Sense Media offers additional reasons for the recommendation, citing that the age of 13 years is when children develop

  • a broad understanding of the world around them
  • a sense of what is appropriate to share online
  • the maturity and desire to control their own activities

Keep in mind, however, the rational part of the brain that is responsible for logical, reasoned thinking, problem solving, and decision making is not fully developed or mature until about age 25 or so.

Sources:  https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/teens-and-digital-devices-a-guide-for-parents and Monica Kramer McConkey, “Supporting Farm Youth Through Understanding and Intervention,” 1-16-2020.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/girls-cell-phones-sitting-3481791/ (downloaded 01/28/20)

















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