Is screen time for children good or bad? If you were born in the analog era, then your gut instinct is probably that it's not good, but it's not quite that obvious. There are some reasons why a guided or limited amount of screen time is a good thing and cutting things back to zero isn't always the best idea.
Here are some positive things to keep in mind:
The number one thing you can do to help your kids grow in a healthy way is to spend time with them. Not only does this strengthen the bond between you, but it also helps them establish a strong sense of safety and security, which is essential for them to take appropriate risks with maturity as they grow up. Of course, there are many ways to spend time with your kids, not using screens. Yet, sitting with them and playing a game, reading an interesting article, or watching a TV show can still count as quality time together, especially if you are interacting and talking about it.
When you sit with your children while they are using a screen, you get the chance to see how they behave with these devices and teach them about how what they are watching/doing relates to the real world.
Communication and Connection Building
The technology of today gives us and our children the means to talk with friends and family even from far away. Of course, kids can take this too far and put themselves at risk by communicating with strangers. By educating them on how to recognize and handle encountering these dangers and encouraging communication etiquette, talking through a screen can help kids grow their tools for social connections.
You can also use digital technology to connect your child with services, support, and care through virtual sessions with teachers, therapists, or the child life specialists at Hearts Connected.
Learning and Development
The internet allows us to independently pursue whatever piques our curiosity, which may help some children develop into lifelong learners. To succeed in school and later in life, you need to have a high digital literacy level, meaning you need to know how these devices work and how to best use them to your advantage. However, for this to work, children need some help. They can be easily distracted, or they might not know how to effectively look up what interests them. Sitting with your child and helping them figure out how the internet or a digital device works can be a great way to encourage learning.
The opportunity to have a device that is "theirs" or at least feels this way can help encourage their sense of autonomy and independence. Recognizing when your child is handling digital situations appropriately and safely is one way to help them stand for themselves in the world and build a good sense of responsibility.
Stay tuned, the next and final post of this series will cover how to recognize if your child is getting too much screen time, and how to set up an effective screen time policy.
*This blog post is part of a series of posts adapted with permission from the original author, Helen Griffin. Content originally published on Cable Comparisons Blog.