Maybe Screen Time Is Not Such a Menace

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screen time
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Screen time.

Oh, how we love it and abhor it for our littles. Screen time is a respite for parents of tired toddlers, ten minutes of quiet from talkative tweens, and blissful silence from cooped-up kids on long car rides.

Screen time is also damaging our kids’ brains, stunting their emotional growth, and turning them into anti-social robots.

So which is it?

Since my oldest child was born in 2015, I’ve heard about the evils of screen time all around me, both from reputable pediatric sources and overheard from the boisterous mom at the park.

My oldest child is almost nine, and he is the child who craves screen time the most. My husband and I see the negative effects that the American Academy of Pediatrics warns us about with too much screen time, like sleep problems and mood problems.

However, we also see so many positives.

My son uses his screen time to play Minecraft and Roblox. But he also uses it to invent new music beats and create videos. One day, he designed a comic book. He found an app to use, figured out how to download and insert images, and even added effects. Another afternoon, I was angry with him because he had his iPad out when he had friends over but they weren’t playing video games. My son created a faux movie trailer and had his friends act out the parts. It was really good, and I was impressed with his skill and frustrated that he went against our rules.

Screens aren’t going anywhere. On the contrary, they are becoming more integrated into our daily lives. Over 92% of jobs today involve screens and require digital skills, which will increase as our children enter the workforce.

Do my kids sit all day on their devices? No (Author’s Note: The answer to this is a rare yes if they are sick or we are in the car all day driving to Florida.)

Do they play outside? Yes!

However, the days of my childhood when we had dial-up internet and one desktop computer for the entire family are gone. My screen time as a child was extremely limited. However, that was not due to my parents’ rules. Screens just didn’t factor into our lives as much. But I think that is why allowing my children to have screen time is so difficult. My reasoning of, “Well, I didn’t do that as a kid,” is a logical fallacy.

I did many things as a child growing up in the ‘90s that my kids don’t do today. Some of these are for the better and help keep my children safe in a world where 2024 is very different from 1994. While we tend to view screen time as an evil that can ruin our kids’ lives, they may one day live in a world where everyone has an Apple Vision Pro strapped to their heads. They may reminisce fondly about the “good ol’ days” of the mid-2020s when they were limited to just an hour of screen time a day.

In other words, parents, if you give all of your children their tablets at Olive Garden so you and your spouse can have just an hour to eat a nice meal without hearing your kids whining or fighting because you need this to stay sane, don’t feel guilty. You’re not being a lazy parent. You’re preparing your child for their future.

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