Currently, a conversation about screen time is occurring on my area listserv. It’s interesting to read various points of view. Some people feel that various apps designed to limit screen time and other digital activities are the way to go. Others point to need to be hands-on about contracts, agreements, and digital rules of the road. Almost everyone seems to be frustrated about defining the line between schoolwork and recreational screen times. Twenty-first Century digital parenting never lacks for challenges!
How do you count screen time? Screens are so much a part of our lives, and in just a few moments we can check texts, read the newspaper, and map out a bike route. Our kids see this.
It’s been fascinating to watch my grandson gradually become interested in light and then screens over these past four years. Early on he’d glance at any area that was lit up — a window, a lamp, a toy — and eventually I’d see him study, with rapt concentration, a lit up screen or unusual light anywhere in the vicinity. When he was a bit over two, his parents got him a fake toy screen — not at all interesting — but real screens, the type we use in almost every part of our lives, grabbed his attention, and fairly soon he wanted to do things with those devices.
Now four, he thinks screens are a big deal. He’d love to play games, watch TV, or just get mom or dad’s iPad or mobile phone to play a game. However, although he lives in a home with multiple screens, his time is limited, and digital devices are rarely used as a baby sitter or diversion. Besides, he has books, lots of books.
The thing is, I love Apple. I’ve owned various Apple computers since 1984 and iPhones for almost ten years. Not to mention various other items like iPods and IPads. But once in a while, I find the policies in the App Store to be dispiriting. Now is one of those times.
As a specialist in 21st Century educational technology and media literacy, I’ve often helped parents select a parental control app that is right for each family. Lots of these apps are out there, and they allow adults to ensure that their children are not misusing their mobile devices
Many of these parents realized the need for these apps, bought them — and used them — early on. Digital parenting is challenging, many of these parents took their responsibilities seriously, and the companies that enabled these good decisions should also be taken seriously.
Crafting screen time guidelines for all family members is a great back-to-school undertaking, but coming up with guidance that is fair and equitable requires family members to consider and answer a range of questions.
Devoting beginning-of-the-year time — at home and at school — to examine solutions to the screen time equation will help 21st Century children find and understand answers to the most challenging question that so many of us ask, “What exactly is screen time?” To help get started the whole family can listen to a radio program about screen time, a 2015 broadcast on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show.
Check out the interesting new research just out from Common Sense Media about the issues and challenges when it comes to 21st Century digital kids and their mobile devices. The image depicts a range of statistics and device issues, collected via a poll of 1,200 parents and teens.
This infographic can be an excellent resource to use for family conversations about teens’ and children’s screen and digital device times (and adults’ times, too). It offers a range of information that can help parents discuss potential problems and concerns.
This past week I listened to New Research On Teens, Toddlers and Mobile Devices, an engaging radio program about digital parenting on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). In early November 2015 Rehm featured four expert guests who thoughtfully examined the digital parenting issues that adults should consider when it comes to digital media and children. It was rebroadcast in December 2015.
A new year—with new devices and new considerations about rules and limitation—is a good time to listen to experts who can help adults think more carefully about how to define screen time and discuss the research (and the need for much more). This program can help adults guide children whose 21st Century lives are increasingly defined by digital activities. Continue reading “What to Do About Screen Time – A Diane Rehm Show Discussion”→
My March 2011 post, Five Tech-free Times for Families,discussed the importance of planning family time-out activities away from digital devices. Time away from screens, I noted, provides family members with opportunities to communicate with one another and enjoy activities that do not require technology (playing outside, eating together, reading, enjoying a game).
Device-free times also help kids and adults become more aware of the people around them, and without screens good conversation is much easier. Many people have kept journals of their device-free activities, and often they note how much easier it is to talk more with people, try new activities, even sit around and relax.