Screen Time: Practicing Control and Limits
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t advocate for “zero screen time” or “zero digital content”. It seems fairly crazy to me in all truthfulness that a little digital or two dimensional content is going to wreak havoc with your kids’ brain. If your child is 2+, an hour or two of screen time will not do much harm.
Obviously screen dependency and addiction will have bad affects, like addiction of any other sort. So if your kid is glued to the screen most parts of the day, it is time to cut down. But is banning screen time altogether really the answer? As parents, can’t you moderate and inculcate a good balance? The way I see it, our kids are born into a digital age. Not like us who have had to navigate through so many technological changes. Even we had television, and frankly I have watched a lot of it as a kid. That said, A cell phone and an iPad has no need to be in a toddler’s hand to use on their own. Supervised television time, with the content of your choice is perfectly okay, provided that it is limited.
I have done a crazy amount of research on this. Every article on the internet about this, I’ve pored over and compared. There are recommendations, and guidelines and talks about studies, but here is the hard fact, there is no conclusive scientific data about this. So before you start guilt tripping about the fact that you let your kids watch videos for maybe an hour or two, stop and read these points below and incorporate these into your lives:
“Remember the three Cs approach:” the content, the context and the child:
- Be choosy about the content—it should be limited to materials that a parent would use to engage the child in conversation
- Be aware of the context—make sure media use doesn’t take the place of other real-world activities
- Be alert to the child’s needs—more limits or increased face time may be necessary based on the child’s interests or disposition
The Slate article, authored by Lisa Guernsey, a noted education journalist and director of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative, concluded with this comment:This shift in advice does not give parents a pass. Nor is it about making life easier for us. Let’s face it: Raising children turns our hair gray no matter what. But at least it moves us from a “no screen time” recommendation that few parents abide toward “mindful screen time” in today’s media-manic world.So make sure that the little screen time that you give your kids is:
- optimally challenging (meaning not too difficult or too easy)?
- engaging (does it have age-appropriate features that maintain attention and invite participation)?
- meaningful (can children relate the content to their lives)?
- interactive, in the physical or social sense.
Also, make screen time a shared experience. The only thing to worry about is to not let screens replace human interaction and play.
Balance, limits, control. If you keep these things in mind, no you are not killing your child’s brain.