Our world is made up of all things technology. Screens here and there, everywhere. Waiting in the doctor’s office? TV’s line the walls. Riding the train home for work? Cell phones galore. Walking down the street during the day? One could lose count of the amount of gadgets that are being used, all day, all around us. It can truly be mind-boggling to think that we are a nation of instant wants and needs and we have to be informed of anything, everything and nothing going on at all times of the day. What started out as recreational fun use of screens and gadgets, has now turned into the way our world operates. As adults, we can work from anywhere, communicate from anywhere, take picture and video ANYTHING from ANYWHERE. As children, we rely on tablets and phones to give us the information for things that we are unsure of. “Google, how much water covers Earth?” “Siri, what is 10 multiplied by 775?” Easy to get the answers to questions that run through the minds of our youth. But now, the debate remains on if screen time for kids is negative or positive. Studies are out showing all sorts of statistics, but as parents, the truth of the matter comes down to what we believe is best for our children. Our choices can impact their future.
Screen Time For Kids
When thinking of children and their use of screen time, often the negatives are the only aspects that are spoken about and looked into further. My opinion, and I reiterate opinion only, is that there are some misconceptions and misunderstandings about screen time and how it can actually play a very large and important role in a child’s development. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 that I feel are the largest misconceptions about screen time for kids.
- Screen time is bad and children are addicted to just sitting in front of it and playing games or watching TV. While I don’t necessarily disagree 100% with this statement, I do feel that it is a very broad statement. Let’s break it down. Yes, an overabundance of screen time can be negative on a child, and on anyone really. It can strain the eyes and cause a lack of physical activity. But truth be told, an excess of ANYTHING is not good. Too much food? Too much chocolate? Those can have negative effects as well. Instead of creating a negative atmosphere surrounding the tablet or device that your child wants to play with, make it interactive. Turn it into a positive. Sit with them and play with them. Take turns playing a game, or take turns answering questions. Communicate with your child that by taking turns and working together, you are helping them to understand the value and importance of teamwork to solve a problem.
- Children who play on a computer or play video games all day lack communication skills that they will need later in life. I do disagree with this and if you are a parent that worries about this, then make a change in the content that your child is playing and reading online. Do your research on what you want them to play with when they are using a device. Set a rule that they get 10 minutes of “free play their choice” for every 20 minutes of learning done. Then, once that is set in place, choose the learning that you want them to do. Learn a new language? Math skills? Situational life skills? Reading aloud skills? As a parent, you have the ability to choose games that will actually increase their knowledge of words and can later enhance their interactions with the world.
- Children who play gadgets are unhealthy and overweight. Again, as a parent, you hold the key to this. While it is true that sitting in one place and not moving isn’t healthy, there are ways to combat it. If your child is a gamer and truly loves to play, then get them moving. There are games that they can play that involve movement. The Kinect is a great system that is interactive and fun. It requires use of your entire body to make the game even work. Another great avenue is downloading certain apps that encourage your child to move and get up and about. In our home, we have apps that use movement for learning, exercising, positive thinking and family fun trivia.
Bottom line is really understanding that the use of technology and screen time for kids isn’t going away. It truly is the way we operate and function and instead of trying to constantly limit that use for your children and putting it in a negative light, think-tank on ways to use gadgets to enhance their curiosity, their learning and their skill sets. Having fun, interacting with others and learning are all possible when it comes to screen time for kids, it just takes a little bit of research and trial and error to find those programs that are a great fit for you and your family.
I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on the amount of screen time our kids are getting?