Good News: Screen Time Probably Isn’t That Bad After All (infographic)

Screen time is a touchy subject among parents right now. On the one hand, some 85% of parents fear that their children will become addicted to screens by the time the pandemic ends. On the other hand, screens are exceedingly more necessary for routine activities like going to school or participating in clubs and organizations. What is a parent to do?

Exposure Doesn’t Automatically Lead To Addiction

The talk of addiction in the context of something that the majority of people are participating in without negative consequences is misguided. True addiction requires a perfect storm of circumstances and can lead to life-altering consequences. Watching too much television just doesn’t fit the bill for this.

Still, parents are rightly concerned about the levels of screen time kids are experiencing right now. Parents know that kids do best when they have interactions with other kids, and somehow a video chat doesn’t seem to fit the bill.

Concerns About Screens Have Changed Over Time

“You’ll rot your brain” was a familiar refrain before the age of the internet. The idea was that too much television would incapacitate kids, stunting their emotional and intellectual growth.

And in fact studies have shown that too much poor-quality screen time can do just that. When kids under the age of two watch at least one hour of television each day, it has been shown to lead to cognitive, language, and motor delays.

Kids who have frequent access to screens daily between ages two and six also tend to experience developmental delays and family dysfunction. Teens who spend too much time on social media also have higher rates of suicide attempts.

But as the researchers say, correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation. It’s more likely that parents who have limited resources rely more heavily on screens to entertain their kids, and it’s more likely that socioeconomic factors are playing a major part in these issues.

And right now all parents are being placed in a difficult position with no good answers as to how to deal with child rearing in a pandemic and economic collapse. The good news is that screens, when used properly, probably aren’t as detrimental as we’ve been led to believe.

Look For Quality Over Quantity

While sitting in front of a TV show not doing anything is probably not the best for kids, more often kids are participating in their screen time, even if that screen time involves shows. Television shows like Sesame Street were groundbreaking because they actually involved kids in the action, asking them to say things or perform movements. That’s a far cry from a cartoon that only asks for passive watching.

Newer screen engagements include video chats with teachers and friends, watching instructional videos and following along at home to learn a new skill or hobby, and being an active participant in a video game. Each of these activities has its own benefits, especially during the pandemic. We have known for decades that video games increase hand-eye coordination, and when it comes to games like Minecraft they can also teach our kids valuable skills like planning, engineering, and even coding.

Video conferences with teachers and peers are invaluable during the pandemic. While it’s not the same as having a face-to-face interaction, just seeing familiar faces and knowing that everyone is in the same boat can do wonders for kids who are struggling with the isolation they are feeling.

Even creating content on apps like TikTok can help kids learn new skills and feel capable.

Maybe Screen Time Isn’t That Bad When Used Correctly

As with most things, you get out of it what you put into it. Passively watching endless hours of streaming shows probably isn’t the best thing, but you can’t really lump all screen time together. It’s time to reevaluate screen time for good. Learn more below. Reevaluating Screen Time - Infographic Read next: Learning To Minimize Distractions And Focus (infographic)
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