An exclusive interview with author Dr. Yalda Ulhs…
“There are few hotter parenting issues today than helping our children safely navigate the digital world in which we live. It provides both immense opportunity for learning and connecting and yet great opportunity for making mistakes and harm. Knowing what the facts are and when and how to get involved is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of parenting.” *
Luckily for all of us, Dr. Yalda Uhls has written a book entitled Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact-Not-Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age, to help parents and grandparents navigate through these sometime murky waters. This book is definitely a must-read chocked full of great information, suggestions, and direction.
Dr. Uhls is a captivating woman who first had a successful career in the film industry, but once she became a mom, her interest peaked as she became curious how her children would grow up surrounded by the Internet and digital devices. She decided to change her career path and study media effects in child development and psychology, earning her PhD in developmental psychology from UCLA in 2013. She realized she wanted to pass on her knowledge to America’s parents and give them the tools to work with this generation of kids, that she fondly refers to as digital natives.
We asked Dr. Uhls the following questions:
GPL: How do you control media in your own home?
YU: I stress balance, self-regulation, and content choices. In other words, I try to teach my children to make their own choices (they are teens now) and if I see issues I address them. For example, if their grades are slipping or homework isn’t getting done, we cut back.
GPL: For grandparents, do you think media guidelines should be any different?
YU: Since grandparents are not in the day to day with the kids, I think they should take advantage of the many opportunities to enjoy media with their grandchildren. For example, ask them to show you a favorite you tube video, suggest you play an app together, Skype with them. It’s a great way to bond. I also think grandparents can talk about face-to-face communication, and stress the art of conversation in person and being present.
GPL: Are there apps that you would suggest for grandparents to have on their phones for themselves?
YU: As you know, I work with Common Sense Media, a national non-profit. Here is a list of apps that have been vetted by them:
Preschoolers (2-4) <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/multiplayer-apps#preschoolers>
Little Kids (5-7) <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/multiplayer-apps#little-kids>
Big Kids (8-9) <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/multiplayer-apps#big-kids>
Tweens (10-12 <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/multiplayer-apps#tweens> )
Here are several terrific apps to share:
Road Trip Bingo — age 4+
Classic car trip game allows two people to play at once.
Chop Chop Tennis — age 6+
An ace tennis app with excellent controls for all ages.
Boggle for iPad — age 7+
Fun, family friendly word game faithfully re-created.
Uno — age 7 +
Fun multiplayer game on same device, watch online play.
Battleship — age 8 +
Just like the classic board game but with big explosions.
Carcassonne –– age 8 +
Great “Huddle” game on iPad about placing tiles.
THE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition — age 8+
Classic game takes kids on an immersive, 3-D adventure.
Yalda T. Uhls, PhD is an award winning child psychological researcher and leading expert in how media affects children. She does research with UCLA and works with Common Sense Media, a national non-profit. In her former career, she was a movie executive at MGM, New Line and Sony. Most importantly, she is a mom of two digital teens (a boy and a girl). Visit yaldatuhls.com <https://yaldatuhls.com> to learn more about her work.