Screen Smarts

The reason the phrase "health and wellness" exists is that they're not quite the same thing.

Nicole Dreiske was the first "wellnessy" guest we included on "Highway to Health," back in May 2018. And she quickly became a favorite.


As the Executive Director of the

International Children’s Media Center, Nicole is a leading expert on both arts programming and how to incorporate media into classroom curriculum. And for those of us who aren't planning a film fest or looking to upgrade our overhead projectors, she's written a remarkable book, The Upside of Digital Devices: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart, Literate, and Emotionally Intelligent.


There are plenty of people who preach and prohibit. If you want to hear about how our society is being destroyed by the dangers of technology, simply pick any click bait and you can be swept away by an endless stream of articles that are heavy on alarm, light on critical thinking, and use the very same dopamine manipulating strategies to keep you coming back for more information about how dopamine manipulating strategies are destroying society. I'm exhausted just writing that.


And while each generation certainly develops scarier technology than the last (did you catch Jimmy Mac's interview with Arthur Holland Michel about Gorgon Stare?), every generation also talks about how "kids today" are being ruined by conveniences and technology. It's a broken record/cassette/CD/wax cylinder.


That's why I immediately liked Nicole's book. She knows that screens are here to stay and there’s no point fighting them; rather, she finds the upside of digital devices. She also knows that policing your kids and their screen use is not only a full time job, but also entirely impossible. Wouldn't it be better to engage with your family, develop your child's critical thinking skills so they can make smart choices without a media cop, and improve their literacy and emotional intelligence by teaching them how to turn on their brains instead of mindlessly absorbing pictures on a screen?


I firmly believe video games, movies, the Internet, TV--even social media--can enrich our lives (I met my husband on Facebook). I mean, I better believe in the joys of media or I'm in the wrong line of work. But I also know what it is to be a tech addict, and the importance of self-awareness, self-discipline, and active engagement when it comes to screens.


Nicole Dreiske will join us on the "Highway to Health" Tuesday, July 23 from 8-9am ET to take your calls, and to shift gears from her usual focus on children to something I think we can all agree needs to be discussed--adult screen addiction. (She'll also tell us how her talk went at the UN!)


Do you have trouble keeping your eyes off your phone when they should be on the road? Do you find yourself checking social media without even thinking? What happens when kids see parents glued to their own phones? Is binge watching bad for you? Do you play video games, or are they playing you?


In the meantime, take a look at this excellent infographic to see how you can help your children become more screen smart.



Photo by Ludovic Toinel on Unsplash

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