How Much Screen Time is Healthy? I wasn’t exactly expecting such diverse reactions to opinions surrounding kids and the amount of time spent in front of screens.
What I did expect were references to reports about the over-indulgent youth of today and how all of their valuable time is being wasted away by the 8 1/2 hours of screen time they consume daily.
Screen time is any time in front of a screen such as television, movies, video games and cell phones. The average American child spends 7 1/2 hours each day on screens, according to a recent article from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That does not include the average 1 hour and 35 minutes a day of texting that the average 7-12th grade reported. 71% have a TV in their bedroom, and a half (50%) have a console video game player in their room.
I find myself standing between two camps. It is not easy to determine the appropriate amount of time kids should be spending on consuming digital media on their devices. Sandra Dodd, from Unschooled, responded to the question of how much is too much screen time by stating, I think the problem is the idea of “screen time.” Have you considered putting limits on paper time? Cloth time? Other-human time? Or this blog: Why We Don’t Limit Screen Time by ANN MARIE MICHAELS of CheeseSlave.
More often than not I come across several scenarios that go something like this:
“That look on their faces – it’s panic-inducing. They look transfixed,” says Hanna Rosin, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, whose recent article, “The Touch-Screen Generation,” is about how parents are grappling with how much screen time they should allow their kids.
But a funny thing happened while Rosin was talking with scientists and app developers for her piece: Her knee-jerk negative reaction to her kids’ screen time changed, and her kids now have different limits based on their different needs and uses. Rosin is like a slew of other parents who, while figuring out how to dictate screen time, are coming up with their own creative formulas.
After experimenting a bit with her youngest son, now 4, Rosin’s approach to screen time is that she tailors rules based on what kind of media each of her children is using and in what context. And she tries not to convey the vibe that electronic media time is automatically frivolous and mindless. “If you can just calm down a little, something good may come of it,” she says.
My opinion, as a parent, teacher, and possible tech-geek, is that, as always, moderation wins out. Too much of any one thing is not healthy, raw vegetables included. It’s necessary to find that happy medium and to monitor what is on the screen. This may end up being very different for each child, even in the same family. I firmly believe, in order to be treated fairly and equally, all children need to be treated differently. Educators and parents need to instill appropriate behaviors in regards to the influx of digital media and its pervasive presence in the world we now live in. It’s critical to teach kids to understand how to use the technology in responsible and productive ways… this goes for entertainment, as well. Remember, however, what is appropriate, responsible and productive will be different from child to child.