Is screen time for kids bad, or is it just the boogyman of the 21st century?
As our teenagers become slaves to thier smart phones and video games and our younger children whine and beg for a tablet or TV show, we’ve got to wonder; is screen time for kids bad?
Every parent wants to do what’s best for their children, but not everyone agrees on what’s “best”. I think we can all agree, though, that there are areas in our parenting that can use a little tweaking.
For many parents screen-time is that area.
While there are recommendations on how much screen-time kids should be exposed to at different ages, many parents disregard these bits of advice. There are lots of parents, probably the majority, who don’t see a problem in a world with unlimited TV, tablet, and video games.
These parents often see screen-free or screen-limited families as freaks and outliers; conspiracy theorists who live an alternative lifestyle.
Because, well, “We grew up watching TV and we turned out just fine.” Ok. Maybe.
The thing is, research. And there is a lot of it.
Kids and screen time: then and now
Here is where the “We watched TV growing up and we turned out just fine.” argument loses steam.
When we were growing up, we didn’t have smart phones or tablets. We had to wait for our favorite shows to come on.
Kids today get everything on demand via these hand held devices and through streaming services like Netflix.
Apart from the occasional Christmas or Halloween movie marathon, the option to binge watch just wasn’t available to us. when we were growing up.
There is just no comparison. The screen time options kids have nowadays is much different.
And it’s hurting them. Obesity, lack of social interaction, and a decline in creativity and motor skills are just some examples of the damage too much screen time can cause.
For those unfamiliar with the recommendations from the WHO and the AAP, here you go:
Of course, these are just screen time guidlines, but these public health organizations didn’t just pull them out of thin air. They are evidence-based.
It’s likely your child’s screen viewing exceeds these recommendations. A caveat to these screen time guidlines is that, if your child is exposed to this amount of screen time, or more, it is benifit for you to choose wisely about the content they view, and when possiible, to view it with them.
Quality programming does exist, so if you simply can’t sit and wat TV with your children, don’t be too worried. Modern parents often don’t have the luxury of limiting screen time or watching TV with their children.
In closing, no, screens aren’t the boogyman of this century, nor are they inherently bad. In fact, there is lots of wonderful programming out there and relaxing in front of a show here and there isn’t going to cause irreparable harm to your kids.
It’s just something to think about.
With Love, Maryanne!