Media and Tech
In today's digital age, the presence of screens and technology has become an integral part of our lives, influencing every aspect of society, including childhood. The term "screen time" encompasses all screen-related devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, or watching television. And of course, we use these devices to engage in countless activities; to work, to play, to stay informed, to distract ourselves. We send emails, exchange texts, use social media, play games, read news, watch shows, learn skills, create lists, write journals, share photos, make videos, and endlessly research.
Most screen activities are designed to reward the human brain with pleasurable neurochemical experiences, so they can easily become addictive. That makes it challenging for us as parents to support our children to develop a healthy relationship with screens -- especially since most of us don't always have a healthy relationship with our own devices!
Let's define "healthy" as something that benefits you and contributes to your well-being. Some kinds of screen usage have demonstrable positive effects, such as creativity, learning, communication, social interaction, and making a living. And most of us include some things in our lives that are not super healthy but that are enjoyable and therefore contribute to our well-being, such as an occasional dessert, so let's agree that even screen usage that does not have obvious benefits can contribute to our well-being when used in moderation, in the context of a balanced life.
So we need to think of screen activities on a continuum. Many are positive, but making sure they're used in moderation is the challenge. Many are okay when used occasionally. And many are demonstrably harmful to children and teens. That includes Porn, of course, but it also includes much social media.
The question for parents is therefore WHICH kinds of screen activities to allow, WHEN to permit your child to begin using them, and HOW FREQUENTLY to allow them. And of course, once you've made those decisions, HOW to help your child accept those limits and be responsible about their screen usage, given their still-developing brain, the social pressures to use various screen activities, and the addictive nature of screens!
Research consistently demonstrates that the more children use screens, the more negative the effect on their brains and bodies.Read More