Screen time has become an integral part of our lives, but its impact is not one-size-fits-all. It’s essential to navigate the use of devices like laptops, tablets, phones, and TVs in a manner that prioritizes quality, education, and social interaction. While concerns about excessive screen time persist, it’s important to explore the positive effects that screen time can have. By striking a balance and leveraging technology purposefully, we can harness its potential benefits and make the most of our digital experiences.
When the epidemic broke out, my son Shayyar was five years old. I was concerned about his emotional growth as more and more of his education and life shifted online. Surely, he shouldn’t start his educational career by attending virtual kindergarten online?
However, as the pandemic persisted (and persisted), we grew accustomed to our newfound virtual reality. The risks associated with excessive time spent in front of screens were a constant source of concern for me, as they are for most parents.
Every parent understands their child’s excessive screen time can negatively affect their child’s growth and socialization. Another issue is the potential for children who spend two hours or more each day in front of a screen to develop behavioral issues. Let’s not discount the actual bodily harm, either. Excessive use of electronic devices has been linked to headaches, neck pain, and childhood obesity. In a nutshell, danger lurks.
However, advantages do exist. The use of electronic devices can have positive effects. A study published in October 2019 by researchers from Oxford, Cardiff, and Cambridge found that children benefited from limited screen use. One’s mental and emotional health can improve just by spending time in front of the TV or utilizing a digital device.
Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, said in a statement, “Given what we’ve found, calls for blanket bans on technology and age limits on technology access are not based on facts or good morals, especially since screen time can have positive effects in some cases.” In addition, research from the non-profit Common Sense Media in July 2020 recommended that parents pay more attention to the content than the quantity of screen time their children are getting.
Let’s be honest: most of the kids we know are still receiving a lot of screen time even now that we’ve returned to school, jobs, and offline life.
Shaiyar, age 8, now relies on his electronic devices more than ever. Although he is now physically back in school, he still looks forward to his weekly iPad play dates, during which he and his buddies from across the country spend hours chatting while building Minecraft worlds and animating their creations. Kavya, my 12-year-old daughter, has used the Kindle app to host virtual sleepovers with her friends and to read dozens of library books. Then there’s the time spent vegging out in front of the TV or playing games.
I’m concerned about how much time you spend on the internet. However, experts say that most of us ignore the genuine advantages that screens can provide. “All screen use is not equal,” Michael Robb, the report’s author and senior director of research at Common Sense Media, told CNN. This was very noticeable at the peak of the epidemic, when many kids still used computers for school and socializing.
There’s digital broccoli and digital ice cream if you compare screen time to food in the same way. What a child learns from their screen time is highly context-dependent. E-reader reading, for instance, is the technological equivalent of broccoli. You wouldn’t want your kid to eat too much broccoli because it can induce an upset stomach, but the amount of broccoli you’d let them eat every day would be far higher than the amount of junk food you’d let them consume, right?
She argues that youngsters can gain a lot from doing things like viewing instructional or instructive videos on YouTube, engaging in role-playing video games, and connecting with friends online to watch a movie together. Your best judgment is all that is required when establishing boundaries.
The trick is to strike a balance. However, strategic use of screen time has been shown to improve children’s academic performance and social interactions.
Here are five reasons why parents can feel more at peace when their children spend time in front of screens.
1. Helps in Making New Friends
Contrary to popular belief, Screen time can positively affect children’s social and emotional development. Internet Matters argues that kids who have trouble making friends or who have unique interests or requirements benefit greatly from the accessibility provided by modern communication technologies.
As a parent during the pandemic, I saw this firsthand with Shaiyar and his Minecraft playdates, as did many other caretakers. Miner adds that her adolescent has made new friends in London after corresponding with them online. Everyone, not just kids, can benefit from making and keeping friends through social media. It reminds me of writing letters to friends and family.
It’s versatile enough to be utilized in chats as well as games. In early 2020, when lockdowns meant that she (and many other kids) had to stay home from school, my daughter video-phoned her pals. They had virtual playdates and tea parties. In addition, online social networking sites can help people feel more attuned to one another.
2. Improves Analytical Capacity
Not every program or video game is indeed of equal quality. That’s a proven fact. Did you know, however, that there are several that work to boost one’s analytical skills and enthusiasm for learning? According to Caroline Knorr, senior parenting editor at Common Sense Media, “many of these games won’t even feel like learning.” But parents know that time spent playing games and puzzles that encourage their children to try new things and think outside the box is time well spent.
Miner warns parents to check on their children’s apps and games but points out that many games, particularly role-playing games, focus on social dynamics and active communication.
Perseverance, resource management, cooperation, strategic planning, spatial awareness, and logical thinking can all be learned by playing certain games. And those are all bright sides. You make some blunders, figure out what went wrong, and try again. That’s how you win in almost any game you play. Right?
She also argues that gaming can serve as a significant means of connecting with others. They are engaging in social interactions that are similar to those they would have in person, such as connecting with friends and neighbors. But instead of doing it in the backyard or the park, it’s more like they’re doing it in each other’s living rooms. They still need to feel powerful and rowdy and release their pent-up aggression.
3. Helps Get Kids Ready for School
Screens, in the form of everything from video games and applications to e-books, can help get kids ready for the classroom. Some shows on TV are actively trying to get kids interested in reading, spelling, math, and writing. Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warning against it, high-quality apps and programs can be an excellent educational resource for children as young as 18 months.
The greatest way to teach a young child how to use a computer is to introduce them to high-quality programs or apps that the whole family can enjoy. Join your kids in their favorite shows or games, and find other ways to spend quality time together that are good for their development.
4. Helps In the Growth Of Dexterity of the Hand
According to Internet Matters, your child’s hand-eye coordination can benefit from working on computers and playing video games. The website claims that the practice of using a computer enhances both visual intelligence and hand-eye coordination. Coordination is also negatively impacted.
Motor skill development can be aided by playing video games.
5. Promotes Language and Literacy
The idea that screens may (and do) enhance literacy and communication abilities may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true. Electronic books help us become better readers. They also provide us with a library that is far larger than most people’s homes and contains many books on many different subjects. Apps and software like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Evernote all serve to facilitate communication.
My daughter’s sixth-grade Lexile scores skyrocketed to the college level after we started a routine of reading e-books together every night. This is a habit I can support without breaking the bank because she can get free ebooks via the library app she uses.
However, it is still necessary to strike a healthy balance between time spent online and elsewhere. Constantly vegging out in front of the television or looking at a screen is bad for your health. It can cause harm. It is essential to establish boundaries. We’ve all encountered the kid who, when denied Minecraft, becomes a monster.
Remember that there’s no “normal” amount of screen time for kids of any age. Consider a variety of considerations when deciding how much screen time your child should have. What is this kid’s specific situation? This is the big question. What kind of neurotype do they have, if any? That is the very first inquiry I would have. The second makes you wonder if summer has arrived. Is it time for class yet? Do we have a holiday this season? The third is how are they surviving in any other circumstances. Is this a kid who gets along well with others, does his or her share of the chores, does reasonably well in school, and appears to have a healthy perspective on life in general? If that’s the case, I’ll be happy to monitor their electronic activity. But I’ve decided to stop stressing so much about it.
What, therefore, can parents do to make sure their children are exposed to age-appropriate material online? Get involved, keep tabs on how your kids use technology, and encourage a healthy mix of online and offline pursuits. Professionals advocate for what they call the “Three C’s” Parenting, material, and setting. You know what’s best for your kid, but you can also guide them toward more wholesome media options, like the ones recommended by Common Sense Media.
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