Kids and Screentime

The American Academy of Pediatrics  says it is hard to measure screen time because of the number of ways kids can be looking at one (beyond the tv). They also point out that, especially during the school year, kids could be reading a book (on a Kindle) or doing homework (on a computer). They recommend 2 hours a day for kids 3-18 for "entertainment screen time." You define "entertainment."

The average 8-10 year old spends almost 8 hours a day on screen time with older kids spending up to 11 hours a day. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging. - See more at:
The question the AAP asks is - what is screen time displacing? Physical activity? Actual interaction with family and friends?

Two things that seem to stand out are 1) parents, heal thyself and 2) just say no.
The first issue is that a number of parents use phones (not for phone calls) at dinner. I'm fairly surprised at this because, of course, it begs the question of setting a good example.

My late husband really had one sacrosanct rule about parenting that came from his Italian heritage - as much as possible, we eat dinner together.  Most of the time, that was about 90% even thru high school.  And, no phones.  As a teenager, my younger son tried to sneak glances at his but his father let him know that was not happening.  (We also took no phone calls during dinner - landline or cell.)

Two, as you may be aware, you are the parent and yes, you get to set the rules.  It is tempting to let everyone do their electronic thing while you may be attending to a multitude of tasks at home but don't let it be your only way for you to get things done.

Here are some good tips from Healthy on a family media plan.

They recommend that parents take an active role in what their children are watching and playing in the same way you take an active role in what they eat.  As well, watch tv with your kids and find ways to ask about what they think about situations they are seeing.

I liked this particular story because this family's issue was with their 12-year old who is a straight-A student but loved his hand-held devices.  But Mom and Dad were not happy with the amount of time he was on that device and enacted limits.  It not only got him up and moving, he interacted more with his younger siblings (and set a good example for them).

Then there was this interesting study about kids who went five days without any tech and others who were at the status quo.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers.

Story of the future for tech in schools? - a school where one third-grade class spends 75% of its time on iPads.  From The Hechinger Report:

Mercaldi’s class in Mineola, N.Y., is in the fifth year of a district initiative that now provides iPads to all students in grades three through nine. At Jackson Avenue, which houses the third and fourth grades, all 417 children, including those in special education, have their own tablets, and they spend about 75 percent of their instructional day on the devices, more than many other schools that have embraced digital learning.


Anonymous said…
It freaks me out when I see parents out at a coffee shop or restaurant with little kids and they are using their cell phones and the kid is just sitting there serenely. What drugs are they giving this child??? My kids would never tolerate that, not from birth, and not now... they demand attention & interaction, and I'm ok with that because I think they deserve it, and I believe it's good for them to demand what they deserve.

By the same token, I demand attention & interaction from them.. and I demand that they come to dinner and participate in the family social time. I have moral authority on this issue because I don't demand any more from them than I am willing to give them.

It's just amazing how many people are ok with that. If someone does that to me, I will stop spending time with them, because they aren't really spending their time with me. I need more than a warm body.
Maureen said…
I'll be interested to see if language skills for this generation of middle class kids decline because their parents interact with them so little. I used to narrate every walk and drive we took (puppy!), now parents are on their phones and kids in strollers or cars seats are plugged in too.

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