The Kids Are Alright (and So Are Screens)
Updated: Aug 1
Many things have changed in the world of parenting since we ourselves were parented. From safety equipment to video monitors to boogie nose-vacuums, times have changed. However the biggest area - and one that is undeniably shaping generations - is technology. Technology, and particularly personal devices like phones and tablets, are shifting how our children spend their time, interact with the world and how we adults parent them.
Consider this a judgement free post - one that accepts you and your family’s choice of how to use technology as just that - YOUR family’s choice.
There are many areas that we as parents make choices for our children. We have choices and we make the best ones we can at each moment.
The impact of screens on our kids is palpable. They are connecting, learning and playing in ways we never imagined. But more and more we see that children and technology use can also create feelings of disconnect, confusion and a feeling of too much, too soon.
The vast majority of us offer screens to our children as entertainment, a reward, a playmate, a time-filler and a learning tool. How much we allow is a very big gray area that is easily blurred.
The decision of if and how to allow screens with kids comes down to trusting our gut. Developing an approach to screen use in family life is not easy but necessary. The dance between too much time on screens, our own guilt and the demands placed on us at any given time creates tension for many. Unlike other generations, our home and work lives are commingling more. Home life pops up at work and our work intrudes on our family time. Emails, texts and video conferencing are here to stay. So is raising our children.
Here's the place to start as you try to find your version of screen-life balance at home:
Why? Screen time can be a useful tool in a family’s life. For some children it is a must while others struggle to handle the stimulation and responsibility. Take a moment to thoughtfully weigh why screens are helpful to your family’s day-to-day.
When? Creating routines and structures around screen time can be a gamechanger. Think through when they are best for your kiddo and when they would be better avoided. Every child is different! Some may find an online story or movie soothing close to bedtime while others can find them overly stimulating, for example.
Interacting with their world Screens are here to stay. This generation of children will absolutely use technology in likely most, if not all, aspects of their lives. The world is quite literally at their fingertips. That is exciting but also terrifying when you consider your little one being able to access information and images that are not for children. With our own kids, being in the NYC area, we liken it dropping our kids off in the middle of Times Square. In many ways, handing a child a screen without restrictions and guidance is just that. There is a whole lotta fun, but also a whole lotta trouble out there. Let’s be vigilant and aware of how our kids are interacting with the world via screens.
Grace in the moment is a must. We’ve all been there (or will be) if we chose to give our children screens. They will see or do something we don’t feel is appropriate. Whether watching a show that is too mature or stumbling upon pornography, the risks are real. Try as we may, parents need to assume something like this will happen if children have access to screens (or even our own phones!) When it happens, give yourself grace. Help your child make sense of it, heal from it and move forward safely.
Who is it serving? This is an important question to revisit as your child grows. How is the use of screens and technology serving you and your family? When you have a toddler it may have bought you time to take a shower but as a grade schooler, is it taking the place of other kinds of interactions and activities?
Create realistic limits that are consistent You will see lots and lots of guidelines for how much or how little to use screens with children. Those are great to be aware of but in your home, in your day-to-day, you are the one who will make the limits. Whatever those are for your family, aim for consistency. A wishy-washy limit gets you nowhere. Make the limit realistic and stick to it as closely as possible..
Good luck, Workers & Players! We are in it with you and working to figure it all out as well. Need to talk this through some more? Need help getting back on track (or finding your track)? Reach out. We are here to support parents!
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Online Resources Around Screen Time & Kids: