All screen time isn't the same
5/14/2013 6:44:00 AM
In the digital age, it’s
become conventional wisdom that too much screen time is a bad thing for
our kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under
the age of two have no screen time at all, and that kids over two watch
no more than 1 to 2 hours a day.
Numerous studies have chronicled
both the rise in overall media consumption and the correlation between
too much screen time and poor academic performance. As a result, parents
are constantly reminded to monitor screen time and restrict it as much
Unfortunately, that’s becoming increasingly hard to
do. Think of all the screens that are now commonplace around the home.
There are multiple TVs of course, but then there might be desktop
computers, laptops, iPads, iPods, Kindles, smart phones, gaming devices –
the list is almost endless. Are all these screens equally bad or are
some screens worse than others?
The reality is that screens will be
an increasing part of our kids’ lives, not less. Most schools now
schedule computer time at school. Some schools even make a point of
providing each child with a laptop and require them to be in use for
virtually every class.
The use of computers, iPads, and other
devices is even more pronounced at higher learning institutions, where a
recent Associated Press poll found that the average students stares
into a screen for over 6 hours a day. (That’s nothing – I estimate that
on an average day, I’m looking at some kind of screen for at least 10
So how do we decide good screen time from bad screen time?
Clearly it’s down to content. An hour spent prepping for a test on NationalGeographic.com is a totally different experience for a child than watching an hour of cartoons on Nickelodeon. An hour playing Red Dead Redemption is clearly not the same as an hour reading a good book on a Kindle.
So the next time you worry about your child and too much screen time, stop to consider what kind
of screen time they are experiencing. I don’t think it will ever be
like good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but maybe there’s bad screen
time and not-quite-so-bad screen time!