We live in an age in which it is nearly impossible to escape interacting with electronics. The time spent in front of these electronic devices, sometimes referred to as “screen time,” is increasing with each passing year. As adults, it’s not unusual for many of us to spend the majority of our working day using a computer, not to mention constantly checking our cell phones throughout the day. Likewise, our children’s use of electronics is increasing, and they’re starting earlier and earlier these days. Therefore, it is useful to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of “screen time” for our children.
What Is Screen Time Replacing?
For many parents, limiting our kid’s time in front of a screen each day is a constant challenge. Keep it up, though! Remember, too much time spent with electronic devices cuts into other activities that are beneficial to your child. For instance, part of a healthy lifestyle includes plenty of physical activity. Is your kid spending so much time in front of a computer that he is missing out on much needed exercise? What about homework? Is your son or daughter failing to complete assignments or rushing through them in order to have more time for video games or social media? We must also consider how well our child handles relationship with others. Does he play and interact well with other kids, or does he spend so much time texting that he struggles to express himself appropriately in “real” conversations? Technology is wonderful, but as with any good thing, when taken to the extreme it can be harmful.
Don’t Throw out the Baby with the Bath Water!
While there’s plenty of potential for negative when it comes to digital devices, don’t forget the many benefits that time with technology brings! Our kids are being raised in an age and a society that revolves around technology. The more time children spend interacting with electronic devices, the more familiar and comfortable they will be with them. When our children enter college and later the work force, we want them to have marketable skills. Adequate time spent with technology will help with this transition. So the question becomes: “Does my kid’s screen time consist primarily of entertainment (e.g. TV, video games, etc.) or does it include an educational component?” For instance, if your daughter is learning how to put together a Power Point presentation on turtles, that is altogether different from spending hours watching cartoons. If your kindergartener is learning how to read on an educational program like Red Apple Reading, then the benefits are great indeed!
The Bottom Line
So is technology a blessing or a curse? The answer is both. When left to their own devices (pun intended!), most children will tend to give themselves too much screen time. However, with appropriate monitoring and boundaries, time spent in front of a laptop or iPad can be a source of great benefit to our kids.
What’s your opinion? How much is too much when it comes to screen time?