Screentime

Inevitably we all run into articles with dire warnings against the usage of "screen time".  They will all cite experts that say that screens are addictive, that children need to interact with the "real" world, that kids will become violent or angry or lazy or become mindless zombies, or they aren't communicating with people in the same room (generally the parents), or they will just become bad, bad, bad.  The advice given in such articles is to be a good parent and control all those screens by putting limits on usage.

The most obvious part of such articles - something most people totally miss - is that kids who are using technology aren't being mindless automatons staring blankly at a screen. Savvy parents have known for a long time that research articles like this are doing studies on kids in school. Their studies are not being done with homeschooled or unschooled kids who have, presumably, a very different relationship with technology.  

How many kids do you know stare blankly at a screen - even schooled children who are using technology to decompress? 

I'd wager the number is VERY low. 

Looking at the graphic here to the right, many kids, most kids can do ALL of that, while also watching a movie, or YouTube videos, or playing a PC game at the same time. That's some hardcore multi-tasking. Kids aren't sitting passively with technology and their accompanying screens. It's the most ludicrous idea to suggest that that's what is going on. I've never seen it happen. Not even with toddlers who are actively using apps and exploring tablets and the like. I've know toddlers who figure out how to take selfies and do so intentionally. Think about how you learned how to do those things with phones and apps, over years, over time. Kids just do it, and then move on to the good stuff, the creative stuff, the interesting stuff.  Adults tend to have a pretty steep learning curve.

Kids will sometimes even use their phones to chat while sitting in the same room. It's not better, just different. It certainly doesn't mean kids are not having real conversations or real social interactions because they ARE. The kids that are often used in the articles supporting the idea that screen usage is bad, are probably doing that also -  they just are not having conversations with the people who aren't using their phones. And maybe, just maybe all those kids who prefer to communicate via their phones, are finding the adults in their lives boring and not very stimulating.  If parents want to be front and center in conversations - or life in general - with their kids, then they better be interesting. Because what's on your child's phone IS interesting! It's the whole world at their fingertips. If kids find you interesting enough to set their phone down, then they will do just that. Parents probably shouldn't be complaining about how much screen time their kids are using. There is almost nothing worse than a Debbie Downer who wants to find fault in something you love and enjoy doing.