Today, if you ask any parent whether screen time is good for their kids, they’ll probably say it’s not. If you ask them if they nevertheless allow their kids to interact with screens, many of them will tell you they do. Although parents are aware that screen time can have a negative effect on their kids, they may not recognize that there are benefits to this interaction that shouldn’t be overlooked. So, how do we find the balance?
Fears parents have – and the good news
Screen time is passive.
Children, especially teenagers, could sit and scroll through social media for hours, right? When a child spends their screen time mindlessly, with no creativity or interaction required to progress, it’s referred to as passive screen time. Some other activities that are usually passive are watching YouTube videos, browsing the internet, and playing repetitive games.
However, screen time can be active, too! Many activities involve cognitive or physical engagement. For example, coding a website, designing digital space, and playing educational games are all considered active screen time.
Playing games affects education.
This is true if a child spends too much time playing video games or playing them instead of doing their homework or some other school-related activity. Also, many children play video games at night, resulting in sleep deprivation and inability to focus in class, among other problems.
On the other hand, many educational games can teach your child useful things. And here we don’t mean only learning math, physics, etc., or simply acquiring skills directly related to technology. Kids can learn teamwork skills, too! They can master skills like communication, collaboration, persistence, and how to be a good leader. But although educational games are beneficial, parents should be aware that they can be just as addictive. So, it’s important to limit time even for them.
Screens isolate children.
Do you have to ask your kid the same question three times before they answer it while they’re playing video games? You’re thinking That screen’s coming between me and my child! It can be, sure, but it also can be a source of new topics for you. Try talking with your child about some game they play. For example, what “the rules” are, what they’ve learned by playing it, with whom they play, etc. You could also ask your child to teach you how to play their favorite game, so you can play it together.
If you want to learn more about these fears and why they’re unjustified, watch TED Talk by Sara DeWitt
Why children should have (limited) screen time
In today’s world, it would be more harmful than beneficial to forbid your child screen time completely. Despite concerns that screens isolate children, it’s really hard for a kid to socialize if they don’t use screens. Children often talk about news they’ve read, podcasts they’ve watched, and about important things they’ve learned with their peers. So imagine your child standing around with friends and having no idea what other kids are talking about. They certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable.
Remember that many screen activities include social interaction. Think about playing video games with friends or chatting. And they may even make some new friends around the globe!
HELP YOUR CHILD CHOOSE A PROJECT TODAY AND MEET NEW FRIENDS AROUND THE GLOBE!
Learning new things and developing new skills.
Screen time gives us the opportunity to learn a lot of useful information. It’s easier to find something we want to learn using our screens rather than books, for example, and it makes the whole process faster. And, of course, digital skills are a must today.
Plus, there are some skills that can’t be learned in school but are necessary in the 21st century. Whatever career your child will pursue, they’ll need teamwork skills to be successful. It’s important today (and for tomorrow!) to learn the art of problem-solving, asking for and giving feedback, and further developing creativity. And that’s exactly where screen time comes into the picture! The possibility of replacing what’s missing in schools we see as one of the greatest benefits of screen time.
Screens are a part of our lives so it becomes about teaching kids how to live with them in a healthy and ethical way. – Jordan Shapiro, a research psychologist and author of “The New Childhood”
Although there has been considerable research into the effects of screen time, most of the data are still limited. That’s one of the reasons why it’s hard to define what constitutes healthy screen use. We certainly believe that screen time can lead to many problems, such as addiction, anxiety or depression, obesity, poor grades, and social isolation. But it’s increasingly a necessity these days and it undoubtedly can provide many benefits. It’s all about balance, and the kind of content your kids are engaging with! So here are two more things that we’d like you to remember.
- Screen time can be great but not too much of it. So don’t use screens as a default time-killer or background noise. Kids should spend time outside playing, as you already know. Many outdoor activities can be lots of fun and just waiting for you to discover them. Also, the time that the child spends with screens should be age-appropriate. The effects of three-hours-long screen time on a toddler and a teenager are pretty different, right? You can find many guidelines and apps to help you with this one, but we recommend you choose what works best for your family.
- Not all screen time is created equal. Help your child choose how they spend time in front of screens. Look for activities that can help them grow, learn new things, acquire new skills. And making some new friends is a great bonus!