Screen Time - Pros and Cons

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Growing-Up-Social-Raising-Relational-Kids-in-a-Screen-Driven-World.jpgIt is said that Bill Gates only allowed his daughters on the internet 45 minutes a day, and, this included gaming time.  He also waited until they were 13 to have a cell phone.  It is hard to know how much or how little screen time is appropriate for your child and family as a whole. 

According to Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, it is not unusual for the average child (ages 8-18) to spend 7 hours a day looking at a screen, be it a computer, TV, or cell phone. Alas, it is all too easy to allow a screen to become a temporary electronic babysitter.

Tips to instill moderation according to authors Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane include:

  • Plan in advance how much time daily is appropriate

  • Plan how much time to allot to individual screen activities - 30 minutes online (this would be games and texting), 1.5 hours of television - decide together

  • Create 'digital free' zones; no devices in bedrooms; have car rides be earbud and game-free times for conversation

  • Actively plan non-screen activities - seek balance

  • Collect handheld electronic devices at a preappointed time at night, i.e. 7:45p.m.

  • Consider having reading be a prerquisite for earning screen time

Research is still underway to determine the effects of screen time on brain development, behavior, character, and relationships.  At present, concerns are that overuse of technology shortens attention span, limits patience, heightens anxiety, and reduces empathy. Inviting your children to concentrate on 'deep reading,' not the merely superficial online skimming of information, powerfully strengthens their ability to focus and to learn. 

As a parent, model the same digital moderation that you would seek of your children. This book urges families to reflect, "Do we have a home centered around screens or a home centered around people?"