Setting Limits on Screen Time for Healthy Families

(Parent and Family) I was sitting with a set of 24 sparkly iPad minis the other day. I was in my school library with the kids who wait every day for the late bus. A few of the kids eyed the iPads; I watched as the speech bubbles appeared above their heads: “I can has iPad?”

But the closer I looked, I also saw that most of the others were playing nicely with the toys the staff had put out for them. Kids were happily chatting over shape puzzles, crayons and paper. I knew the second I started handing out those screens, the kids would disengage from everyone around them and the room would fill with the beep boops of plugged-in children.

This opening paragraph might sound like me, a technology teacher, bucking everything I represent and dissing the very technology that defines my job. But I know better. Technology is not something I teach. It’s something I use to teach. I don’t put kids on Google Drive. I teach kids to write using Google Drive. I don’t budget for Tales2Go for my schools because I like the quiet that comes from 25 kids listening to audio books. I get kids listening to master storytellers for the giggles and the gasps that fill the room as they listen. Ok, for the record, the quiet is nice. But what’s even nicer are the reports I get telling me, for example, that one family listened to over 5,000 minutes of audio books in one month!

We have to leverage the power of technology to engage, entertain and inform our children without sacrificing the activities that device-time might be replacing. So how do families ensure that their kids aren’t over doing it with screens? A mixture of expert advice, common sense and consistency will do the trick. Seems like I shout out to Common Sense Media in every article I write, but they really are THAT good. They have parent guides, articles and materials to help families answer questions, teach lessons and set limits on screen time. Their advice on issues like cyber-bullying and technology addition are expert-based and very practical.

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Publication:      Parent and Family
Author:             Corinne Altham
Publish Date:   6.30.2017