Parenting with technology: How it helps and hurts

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Parenting experts say new technology can be both helpful and harmful to kids. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Parenting experts say new technology can be both helpful and harmful to kids. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Alexa is changing the way kids learn to communicate, often yelling their demands and still getting exactly what they want. Alexa is changing the way kids learn to communicate, often yelling their demands and still getting exactly what they want.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It seems every time we turn around, there's a new device on the market, making it challenging for parents to keep up.

Parenting experts say these new devices, like Amazon's Echo and the personal assistant  "Alexa," can be both helpful and harmful.

Ask and you shall receive.

That's what kids learn when they share their home with Alexa. She's the artificial intelligence personal assistant inside Amazon's Echo device. She provides unprecedented convenience for families but, as parenting expert Dr. Lisa Strohman explained, there is also great reasons for parents to be concerned.

"I have a lot of kids who are starting to treat Alexa like a servant," she said.

According to Strohman, Alexa is changing the way kids learn to communicate, often yelling their demands and still getting exactly what they want.

"What I see is a lot of kids who are already in somewhat of an entitled position becoming even more entitled and more disconnected with the normal social rules are when we are connecting with other people," Strohman said.

Like most things, she says the key to using this technology successfully is finding a balance and setting limits. Just setting a password requirement can keep kids from ordering items without asking mom or dad's permission.

Other devices like Amazon's Echo and Mattel's Aristotle both promise to help parents get their little ones to bed by playing lullaby's, adjusting lights and even reading your kids a bedtime story.

This certainly makes less work for parents but Strohman says it comes at a high cost.

"There's something called secure attachment where when a child cries and a parent responds. It's eye contact, it's touch, it's heat, it's heartbeat. All of those things children need to have that security so if they're not getting that you're probably going to be raising a bunch of kids who have avoided attachment strategies or they're going to have ambivalent and that leads into really big problems when you become an adult," Strohman said. 

Things like an inability to have relationships with others that are authentic or deep or anything that will allow you to have what we call a successful connection with another partner or human.

She says parents need to look at technology like a drug because, scientifically, it behaves that way in our kids' brains.

"Technology excited that dopamine reward path and if you look at a brain scan of a child who's on technology and if you look at a kid who's using drugs, the exact same pathways are highlighted in the brain so when kids start using technology at young ages it's like you're handing them a glass of wine or a drink that they learn to soothe with," Strohman said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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