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Toward Information Literacy in Child Raising

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Caroline Kennedy, recently appointed U.S. ambassador to Japan in November 2013, has won many fans among the Japanese for her warm and intelligent smile. I am one of her fans, too, but what I recall whenever I see her smile are the words of her father, President Kennedy who was assassinated while in office. President Kennedy has been the subject of various criticism as a politician, but as a child, I was very moved by the famous line in his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," and it remains one of my favorite expressions.

So, why am I quoting President Kennedy's words here? That's because, just as he expected much of his fellow citizens, I would like CRN website viewers who are parents raising children or who are working in child care to take an active approach to the deluge of information on child development, that is, not to be overwhelmed, but to make choices based on their own judgment.

Take, for example, the information on smartphones that is circulating today, a topic of both interest and concern to parents who are raising children and caregivers. It claims that there is a possibility that smartphone use will adversely affect the social development of children and should thus be avoided. In other words, when parents and caregivers use a smartphone around children, they will fail to give them attention and this can have a negative impact on the social skills of children. At the same time, it cautions against allowing children to use smartphones.

What should we make of this information? Some people no doubt think the use of smartphones should be stopped right away. But is there evidence to support the claim that using smartphones has an adverse affect on child development?

Looking at this information closely, it states that smartphones have a possible adverse effect on child development. But what is the reason given for this "possibility?" Wouldn't it be more appropriate to take a more active approach by closely examining the reason why?

We also need to consider the convenience of smartphones for parents who are raising children. Given the soaring increase in children abuse and depression among parents, the smartphone allows busy parents who spend all their time and energy raising children to access helpful parenting information and possibly find some peace of mind through communication with friends.

In any case, CRN's mission is to provide a scientific perspective regarding such undefined information.

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Sakakihara_Yoichi.bmp Yoichi Sakakihara
M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University; Director of Child Research Net, President of Japanese Society of Child Science. Specializes in pediatric neurology, developmental neurology, in particular, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders, and neuroscience. Born in 1951. Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo in 1976 and taught as an instructor in the Department of the Pediatrics before assuming current post.
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