I don’t know about you, but in our house, no screen time can quickly become scream time. Of course, this is a bad sign. We’ve gone so far as to disconnect the TV and hide all tablets for three whole days. And guess what we discovered? Mom and Dad are just as addicted as the kiddo, albeit to the news and not Minecraft. But still.
Why Try a Media Diet?
During our three days of abstinence, everyone in our family experienced intense urges to lurch for a screen more often than we expected. These urges were visceral, and without a doubt, more difficult than the times I tried to cut out coffee or gluten.
The one who pulled through it best? Our son. He was grumpy for about 24 hours. But then? He began to cook up an original recipe for a cake and logged the recipe–in his own handwriting!–to publish in his forthcoming cookbook. (This publication was news to us.) After that, he built a marshmallow shooter out of extra PVC piping we had laying around. There is absolutely no question that if the screen was available he would have been glued to it, slowly turning into a Disney channel character from the show “Jesse.”
I wish I could say that our family maintained this total ban on the screen. But 3 days after our media diet began, the TV was hooked back up and our family time and creativity once again plummeted. This little experiment, though, was quite illuminating. I was shocked to find out that some of the most brilliant minds in tech keep their kids own kids away from screens or severely limit exposure. A fascinating article in The Guardian had this to say:
When a technology journalist suggested to Steve Jobs, in 2010, that his children must have loved the just-released iPad, he replied flatly: ‘They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.’
Children Ages 0-2
The last set of recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (due for an update this fall) was to avoid screens for children under age 2. But let’s face it: even if you’ve got a baby, unless you’re going to keep your sweet love under a blanket, it’s impossible to avoid all screens all the time.
So what’s the answer to managing screen time in order to optimize our children’s brain development while remaining in the real word? kidü has curated some of the best content available on the web to explore this question in a collection called Is Screen Time Just Time for parents of kids ages 0-2.
Children Ages 2-7
Of course, parenting in the digital age is a whole new ball game. When it comes to children older than 2 years old, how much screen time should you allow? If we’re too lax, our kids may lapse into addiction. But if we’re too strict, will they fail to develop the tech skills they’ll need to land a job one day? Plus, I hate to say it and I hate that it’s true: there’s a social price to pay for a kid who has super strict screen rules.
It seems there’s so much at stake for parents. More unsettling, the technology is changing too fast for developmental research to keep up with its impact.
Our kidü collection for parents of kids ages 2-7 is called Screen Time: Getting It Right. This collection explores what we do know about the impact of technology on developing minds, and some of the latest thinking on how to strike the right balance.
Finding the Balance
How do you find the balance in your own home? What are your strategies for enforcing screen time rules, if you have them? And what behavior changes do you see in your kids when they’re on and off the screen?