Screen Time

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The Fallout From Outdated Screen Time Recommendations

In a new commentary on the EdSurge site, Nikki Schafer, a technology integration specialist in a Nebraska school district, points out that outdated screen time recommendations from various medical organizations and in the media has increased parental angst to the point that parents can’t differentiate between screen time for entertainment and screen time for learning. This lack of clarification for over a decade has left many parents with anxiety about device use in general and caused a backlash to the use of technology in the schools. In turn, this has put pressure on schools and districts to carefully explain and prove why adoption of digital tools is not only beneficial, but necessary. In Schafer’s district, she explains, they work to help parents understand that not all screen time is created equal. Sometimes screens entertain, sometimes they distract and in many cases they can support a lot of the skills and characteristics teachers and parents have always known to be critical to growth and development.

More on the Screen Time Debate

The weather outside has been frightful which may well mean your kids have parked themselves in front of a digital screen more than usual. So what is the latest thinking on that? National Public Radio has pulled together 5 Things To Know About Screen Time Right Now and there are some things there that you need to know to guide your rules and guidelines about screen time. Some of the items on the list you probably already have discerned for yourself such as technology brings young people both opportunities and risks and young children are spending more time with small screens. But interestingly a new UNICEF report on the subject takes a “Goldilocks approach" — not too much, not too little — and encourages parents to focus more on what children are doing online and less on how long they are online. Another recent study along those same lines even found that limits on screen time over the course of a month were not necessarily associated with positive outcomes in children. On the contrary, the researchers found small links between moderately higher screen use and the children's good moods. The researchers concluded that caregivers, and their doctors, should do a cost-benefit analysis before "setting firm limits."