Mountain View Voice

News - November 16, 2012

'Unplug your kids,' psychologist advises

by Chris Kenrick

"Unplug your kids."

That was the message Friday, Nov. 9, of psychologist Robert Russell, who spoke in the fourth "Town & Gown" presentation by Palo Alto University.

Russell, who directs clinical training for the university that offers degrees in counseling and psychology, spoke at the Stanford Faculty Club to about 75 students and counselors.

Today's children average nine hours a day of engagement with media, Russell said.

"Given that media exposure, you have to wonder about who is out to control the development of your child's consciousness. Consumerism and media have led some to conclude that corporations are really now constructing the view that we, and children themselves adopt," he said.

"This raises the specter of the vulnerability of childhood itself."

Society's perception of children has changed radically since 1900, when they were viewed as hardy, courageous, sturdy, wholesome, self-sufficient and capable," Russell said.

Today, he said, kids are seen as fragile, precious, vulnerable, sickly, dependent and incapable, with more than 20 percent living in poverty and high levels of obesity and diabetes.

Kids are firmly entrenched in a "consumer culture where we're bombarded by messages to 'buy, buy, buy,'" Russell said.

"You have an uphill battle as adults to engage children in a developmental stage" free from the escalating electronic competition.

Russell said parents should "get your children off the couch and back into nature. Engage them in rational conversation.

"Create challenges from them that are difficult but solvable. Don't level adversity, encourage adventure," he said.

"Helicopter parents" make the mistake of trying to micro-manage their children and shield them from failure, stunting autonomy and independence.

"Take some control," he said. "I talk to parents who ask me questions such as, 'Is it a bad thing for my 7-year-old to sleep with their cell phone?'

"Yes, it is, actually," he said.

"Unplug your kids and control it."

Palo Alto University, founded in 1975 and known until 2009 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, has a campus on Arastradero Road and cooperative arrangements with the Foothill-De Anza Community College District and Stanford University.

This past June it awarded 39 PhDs, 29 doctorates in psychology, five masters degrees, 31 undergraduate degrees in business psychology and 32 undergraduate degrees in psychology and social action.

The university offers low-cost mental health services to the community through sliding-scale fees at a clinic known as the Gronowski Center.

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields