As everything digital develops and the lifestyle around it evolves, changes in all of our personal nuances impact our environment, as well as our behavior. What was brand new six months ago is now commonplace and all the differing protocol that goes along with this new digital life style continues to change as well. Newest research shows that screen time allowances and the acceptable age for use of any screen time varies and families are making the decision as to how much and when. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics released its newest recommendations on screen time for young children, stating, they continue to discourage any screen time for all children younger than two. But, some pediatricians are starting to consider passive screen time, like watching television, and interactive screen time, like using an iPad, as two different types of activities.
A recent article from the Huffington Post had the most conservative stance of any other source polled. The title says it all: 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12. Chris Rowan a Pediatric occupational therapist, biologist, speaker, and author, wrote this piece; clearly he feels strongly that we need to be restricting a lot more than screen time. You can visit Zone’in Fact Sheet for referenced research. The following are Rowan’s ten bullet points for why she feels the new technology is detrimental and children under the age of twelve should be banned from using any handheld devices.
This past Thursday night we had our weekly EdAppTalk Facebook get together and our topic of conversation was screen time. Nancy MacIntyre, CEO and Co-founder of Fingerprint, was the guest host. The evening’s discussion was quite in depth, involving a wide range of participants and side topics. Here is a sampling of the dialogue.
Jo Booth Nancy, just curious what your views are….I feel like there is so much misplaced negativity with technology
Nancy MacIntyre Being a bit provocative here, but I think that many parents say they’re concerned about too much screentime, but in reality do little to control it! Tech is here to stay, selecting good content and keeping your child engaged with the real world seems most important.
Jo Booth The balance though is in application and using what you learn in everyday routines
Jayne Clare And having a discussion after screen time about what you experienced, just like after reading a book and talking about it.
Carisa Kluver Great point Jayne – if we think about experiential learning, we want to take screen experiences and ask what did you think? So what does it mean? Now what will you do with this new info?
Michele Spring Fajeau No question that digital is real and meaningful, and love the idea that it can also be experiential – which makes it all the more tangible (and with that – hopefully comes a mind shift).
Jackie Gove Bryla And getting that great content into the hands of the educators and parents so they know what ‘good’ screentime is.
Nancy MacIntyre When I was at LeapFrog our mantra was “inspiring a love of reading”, but some parents questioned whether this was possible without paper books. Craziness! Following this argument, music could only be listened to on vinyl to be real!
So good screen time may be the gateway…
With that said, I am of the mindset that moderation is the key to life and like anything else, parents need to get involved and monitor what is on the screen and how long their children are on. This is going to differ with each family and I think we can all agree that tablets are not babysitters. Whatever time kids spend on the screen, equal or more time should be spent with a combination of movement, object and creative play. Here is a basic list of screen time guidelines.
- Take Charge. Do not let your children rule the roost, remember you are in charge.
- Set time for amount of screen time. Set a timer (a visual timer helps the younger ones) or some other signal that says “time to stop.”
- Start with routines. Habits get entrenched at an early age, so make sure you establish clear screen-time rules when your kids are young.
- Help with the balancing act. Kids need guidance and a routine they also need a variety of activities, including downtime.
- Practice what you preach. By continually checking email, texts, or Facebook you will set a poor example. Be cognizant to model the appropriate digital behavior.
- Help them make quality choices. Content is still king and kids need guidance.
- Go for quality and age-appropriateness. There is a major difference between mindless and mindful entertainment.
- Get Involved. Spend time with your children with purposeful playtime and be creative in how you explore together.