Interesting story on 7.30 Report recently on screen time. Here's a summary for those who have shortened their attention spans digitally and don’t want to wade to the end of this blog: we don't have enough longitudinal research to know what the appropriate amount of screen time is, those investigations are ongoing. We do know parents are confused and concerned about how much is enough or too much, finding a healthy balance in context is the answer.
What was clear in the report was that the modeling of parents in their use of screens was a factor in how children related to their devices. At SciGround, we follow the Digital Nutrition model as prescribed by our screen time guru Jocelyn Brewer - make screen time nutritious AND delicious: each serve has to include a balance of education, activity, fun, collaboration and be layered with other off screen activities and embedded with growth mindset.
For those of us who grew up in the 80's and 90's, video games, TV and video were going to be the undoing of society and turn us into zombies. Like most moral panics, it was just a new wave of technology, unknown and unquantified, and in the vacuum of evidence, a plethora of fear drove behavior.
Our mobile and screen based world is the new normal. Should we ban screens? We say no. Prohibition is unrealistic as children will be using these tools (and many others we can't even imagine) as a seamless and integrated part of their lives for the rest of their lives. As will we. Demonising an object negates the responsibility of the humans who are administering it. Use the tools with mindfulness and clear guidelines and they will do no more damage than an excess of anything.
Of course developing brains shouldn’t be on a device for hours, and of course there are dangers to unlimited access to the full spectrum of the web. But as adults and guides for kids, we are the regulators here, and as Brene Brown says in Dare to Lead, clear is kind - set the rules and then enforce them in a values based way. The kind of courageous leadership she advocates is also courageous parenting.
If you're worried about your child and screen time, think about it's context in the rest of their and your lives. Screens are just tools, and we are the human drivers who get to make the choices. If we want to be really brave, lets actually talk about the current models of education and how many children they don’t serve, and have a respectful debate about what the new ways of meaningful learning could look like for engaged, compassionate, agile and connected generations. Harnessing new technologies to grow minds, spark curiousity and develop life long learners - that's what makes us tick.