Screen Time for Kids: Stop the Guilt!
Feb 5, 2022 In this technology-filled environment, parents everywhere are struggling with the question: “How much screen time should my child have?”
Parents who allow more than the recommended screen time for kids are often judged harshly by others. As parents, it’s tough to balance children’s online learning, recreational activities, and a work schedule. So what should parents do to limit screen time for kids?
In This Article
Technology and screens are everywhere and hard to avoid. Also, many pediatricians encourage parents to limit screen time as much as possible, including television viewing. The type of screen time you allow is often based on parenting style. Parents often feel ashamed for allowing it or are shamed by a society that encourages real-life learning experiences.
Screens and technology will never replace deep conversations with others and learning through hands-on activities. An article by The Atlantic reported that parents shouldn’t feel guilty for allowing screen time. The data was gathered from over 10,000 parents across the United States and showed three different parenting styles with regard to technology and screen time use.
Parenting Styles Associated with Screen Time
(According to The Atlantic)
These are parents who give their children lots of devices and allowed their kids to choose when and how they spend their screen time. Within this group, The Atlantic found that “digital enablers” tended to be parents of teenagers and made up approximately 1/3 of the parents surveyed.
Parents who are “digital limiters” tend to try and restrict their child’s screen time use and technology overall. This parenting technology style is concerned about how screen time affects a child’s development. “Digital limiters” tend to be parents of preschool-aged children and prefer an “off switch” approach to the internet and screen time.
The last parenting style found in the survey is called “digital mentors.” Instead of completely limiting their child’s use of the internet and screen time, they embrace it. “Digital mentors” help guide their children on how to properly navigate and use the internet responsibly. Again, this group made up 1/3 of the parents from the survey and included different age groups of children suggesting this parenting style can be effective for children of any age.
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With further research and surveying, The Atlantic found “digital mentors”:
- Talk with their children about how to use technology and the internet wisely;
- Research different apps, devices, and programs before their children use them;
- Teach their children about technology through books, videos, and other programs;
- Enroll their children in technology classes and workshops to improve tech-related skills;
- Guide their children through a computer program, app, or website; and
- Will play video games with their children.
From an in-depth survey of “digital mentors,” it was also found that 44% of this parenting style researched technology and talked with their kids regularly about how to use the internet responsibly at least once per week. But what is the result of all these digital monitoring effects for parents? The Atlantic found children of parents who were “digital mentors” were more responsible with screen time and internet use compared to the parenting tech style of “digital limiters.”
The survey further discovered children of “digital limiters” were more likely to “engage in problematic behavior” that included:
- Accessing pornographic websites (accidentally or deliberately);
- Participating in online chat or email with individuals they did not know;
- Increased hostile and mean comments;
- Impersonated another person online.
Takeaway for Parents
While screen time and internet use are difficult to manage for children, the survey from The Atlantic suggests parents should not be ashamed of their children’s internet use. Instead, the survey found the approach used by “digital limiters,” who tried to completely remove technology, only worked for a small amount of time. As a child ages, he or she will only interact with technology more on a regular everyday basis.
This article suggests that parents should not consider technology or the internet as an evil entity that will only slow children’s development. Parents can strike a balance between real-world learning experiences, technology, and the internet. Although it may seem wise to completely limit technology use, it does not prepare children for how to use the internet responsibly as they grow up.
Like many areas in life, screen time and internet use for children is all about balance. Children need different ways to learn, and the internet can serve as an educational tool to enrich a child’s development. Of course, children need guidance to properly use it safely and responsibly. Ultimately, the answer to the question of how much screen time for kids is in your hands, and can only be decided based on your circumstances.
That’s where you come in! Parents need to help guide their children through our technologically advanced world. With your guidance, your children can navigate a technology-filled world while learning responsibly.