PCM26 Screen Time for Kids: How Much is Too Much?

The effects of too much screen time on kids can be serious: lost sleep, poor grades, social maladjustment, behavior problems, obesity. This list goes on and on.

Then again, what are we supposed to do? Cut kids off completely?

The answer, of course, is no. Rather, finding a healthy balance is more appropriate says Dr.Dimitri A. Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, a leading expert on the effects of screen time and media on young people.

Instead of cutting kids off, he says, parents and grandparents need to be smart about how they allow youngsters to use tech. And you can hear on this show just how important kids consider tech when PC Mike Producer Andrew Dietderich talks to his two daughters about how they use it.

Christakis then joins PC Mike to discuss when and how to make sure kids use tech in a healthy manner. Among other things, they discuss:

  • How tech use can be tremendously beneficial for children
  • Three key things to look for that can help identify screen addiction in children
  • How screen addiction compares with other addictions
  • Why you should consider putting kids on a “media diet”
  • How much recreational time is appropriate for daily use
  • The impact of certain types of content on kids
  • What time of day should kids not use tech
  • How software developers work to try and get kids addicted to certain kinds of tech
  • The importance of parents’ involvement in tech use
  • Use a website like commonsensemedia.org to see ratings for content

Also in this episode, we answer a listener’s question about Internet access in rural areas where cable and cellular high speed access is not available or affordable, give you our app of the week and talk the week’s big tech news – the release of Windows 10.


Listener Question: I Need to Know About Internet Options for Rural Areas. Can You Help?

Listener Diane wants to know about available Internet options in rural areas in light of recently losing her service. PC Mike talks about Home Satellite Internet access, recommending a service called Wild Blue.  [spp-timestamp time=”2:53″]

Tech News of the Week: Windows 10, China’s Internet Influence, Selfies While Driving

w10homeWindows 10 Releases; Initial Reaction Positive: Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade started rolling out to the public at midnight, July 29. Mike talks about initial reaction to the release. He mentions a post from the PC Mike blog about what it looks like when you download it here (many have not yet be able/decided to download as of this writing). He also mentions initial reviews of Windows 10. You can read a post about first impressions of Windows 10 from the PC Mike blog here. Most important, we want to know what YOU think – click on the Send Voicemail tab on the right to record your thoughts for next week’s podcast [spp-timestamp time=”10:24″]

China’s Influence on Internet: China is taking steps to reduce what officials there are calling “dominance of the Internet by the U.S.” (Read more) [spp-timestamp time=”14:06″]

Dangers of Taking Selfies While Driving: The problem of taking selfies while driving continues to grow (Read more) [spp-timestamp time=”15:45″]

App of the Week: Turn Anywhere Into a Treasure Hunt with These Geocaching Apps

Geocaching AppsCall it treasure hunting or its more technical name, geocaching – either way it’s a hot way many are exploring new places around the world or even in their own neighborhoods.

And with about 2.7 million – and growing – treasures, or geocaches, out there, all you need is the right app to get started.

Groundspeak Inc.’s Geocaching app is billed by the company as the official app of geocaching. The app is simple and user-friendly. You can easily search, hunt, and log what you find. The app also allows users to download cache locations before heading out, which means you don’t have to have WiFi or cellular signal access while hunting.. It’s $9.99 for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

CacheSense is another geocaching app that accesses the official geocaching database. It features an attractive and intuitive user interface and works well for all levels of users. CacheSense also combines multiple map and navigation sources to make finding treasures easy. Other features include the ability to network with other geocachers and sign up to get emails for new cache notifications. CacheSense is for Android and costs $5.

Last, there’s Geocaching Buddy. The robust app is easy to use, allowing users to keep track of clues, use built-in calculators for clues, and navigate without being too complicated. Because of the way it works, Geocaching Buddy is a favorite of those who prefer to go on adventures involving multi-caches, or treasure hunts consisting of two or more locations. The app is $7.99 and available for iOS and Android. [spp-timestamp time=”18:03″]

Introducing This Week’s Theme: How to Keep Kids’ Use of Tech in Check

Ella, 11, and Anna, 8, join the show this week to talk apps.

PC Mike Producer Andrew Dietderich joins Mike to introduce the main theme of this week’s show – how kids use tech: how much is too much and how much is healthy? A recently released documentary called “Web Junkie” is mentioned and it can be found here.  [spp-timestamp time=”23:27″]

Discussing this subject without actual perspective from kids would be incomplete so Andrew talks with his daughters, Ella, 11, and Anna, 8, to give you an idea of what kids feel and think about tech, focusing on apps. [spp-timestamp time=”28:02″]


Interview: Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Dr. Christakis joins Mike to talk about how children can use tech in a healthy manner. [spp-timestamp time=”33:43″]

A link to his bio can be found at: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-staff/dimitri-a-christakis/

You can see a TED talk he gave on the subject of “Media and Children” at: https://youtu.be/BoT7qH_uVNo?list=PLF4540D73A1245390

Christakis also recommends parents go to commonsensemedia.org to evaluate media their children use.

Online Learning – Free Trial for PC Mike Listeners

I get asked a lot about finding online courses for learning how to use photography software such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom CC, which are both on my recently updated list of tech gear. I talk about how I benefited from taking online courses as well as a special deal available only to PC Mike Techcast listeners at pcmike.com/lynda, where you can even try it free for 10 days and see if online learning works as well for you as it has for me. By the way, they have more than 3,300 courses to pick from – including more than 100,000 video tutorials – in subjects ranging from photography, video and audio to graphic design and web development. With Lynda, you can get:

– Unlimited access to all 3,314 courses – more than 100,000 video tutorials
– Learn new software and stay up to date

Listeners of the PC Mike podcast can get a free 10-day trial. Try any course. Start your trial now and see what you can learn. Just go to https://pcmike.com/lynda to get the free 10 day trial.


We Need Your Help!

As we begin a new podcast like this, it’s very important to get a bunch of reviews to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your rating and review.

Here’s how:

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts on top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in PC Mike Techcast under the Podcasts category.
> Click on the logo image of the PC Mike Techcast on the search return page
> From there, you can:

1) Subscribe

2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.

3) Leave a written review.

Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. I read and appreciate every review! If you haven’t left a review please do so. I will be so grateful!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at pcmike.com. You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your question.

Thank you!

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.