When I saw an article on NY Times about screen time and kids I got excited. But it’s sort of junk.
Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.” Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play,” the academy recommends.
Real world scenario:
Charlie (9-years old) is reading Harry Potter again. It’s not unusual for her to spend 5 hours reading in bed. According to this reading is a good thing. She reads on an eInk Kindle… I’m assuming that’s not a “screen” because it’s reflected light, not projected light meaning your eyes treat it as the same as a book, not the same as a screen.
Meanwhile Ian (7-year old) spends 2 hours programing a video game, sometimes with help from Max (age 11). He’s gotten some cool logic and interactivity in there.
Max meanwhile has been watching videos on game theory. He spends a few hours learning what the visual clues are that someone is lying and finishes up by explaining about endorphins to me and why successful video games are designed to give you lots of early endorphins until you get hooked.
So reading is the best thing here? I admit we rarely limit reading time for kids, but shutting yourself off from the world is just another form of consumption. Sure it requires a *little* more brain activity than cartoons, but it’s just a form of consumption.
Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers
Yeah… I can see this for some kids.
We HAVE had to take Calvin and Hobbes away from Ian (7) for a month at a time because he acts it out. There’s definitely some validity about this based on the child’s maturity level.
I mean this is why D&D and Ozzy Osborn destroyed my generation… Except that I pretty much learned how to run a business by playing D&D (with some help from Starcraft). I certainly didn’t learn it in public school. I did however learn about drugs and alcohol and sex at public schools… so there’s that.
Schoolwork can suffer when media time infringes on reading and studying.
So far my kids staying up late reading has been a problem, but not screen time even when they do a couple of hours a day.
The rules we’re currently working on are ones that Max (11) came up with:
- You get your age in screen time.
- Half of that has to be “approved whitelist” time, which includes: 3D modeling, computer programming, educational videos (like Smarter Every Day or Veritasium, Khan Academy, & Duolingo).