If you have read literally anything in the recent past, you have no doubt come across at least one article talking about the dangers of screens and your kids. Now, the mentality has become so exaggerated parents feel that every 15 minutes of YouTube is the equivalent to one year of future prison time for their offspring.
Of course, there is some truth to the dangers of screen time. However, as with anything else in life, there is also a balance. The convenience of “Go watch your iPad for 20 minutes while I finish this blog” is not lost on me. Believe me. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t think, from time to time, that maybe my kids spend too much time playing video games or watching Hulu. So, what do we do about it? Can you let your kids have screen time and not feel as if you are ruining them completely? I believe so, and it all comes down to one simple word: balance.
But first, let's start with some facts. Research has shown that there is such a thing as too much screen time. In fact, too much screen time can be downright dangerous. Did you know that if your child has too much, then he or she might start developing symptoms that resemble mental disorders? Yep. Too much, Angry Birds and your kid might start acting bi-polar. You can click here and read the full article. However, if you do, I would encourage you to read the whole article.
This brings me to my second point. It is not wise to start making big parenting decisions while being only partially informed. If you kept reading, then you would have seen that the very same article, with its terrifying beginning, also has a pretty encouraging and manageable application. In this case, it is the “electronics fast” which has proven to be quite effective.
So here is my confession. I let my kids watch screens. They even have their own iPads. *gasp* And, you know what else? I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry because my youngest and oldest also play basketball. My middle child is an artist and a Lego fanatic. We eat dinner together and talk about our day. They have chores to do and homework on top of that, and we have even instituted “No Screen Wednesdays.” So, no, I don’t feel guilty about letting them have some screen time once all of their other responsibilities are taken care of. In fact, I love it because I like YouTube too!
It really is all about balance and being intentional. This article is about a contract that a family can honor in which it is decided beforehand when and how long screens will be used each day. It’s worth a look if you are trying to come up with some ideas. The moral of the story, I suppose, is that as parents we need to be careful. We need to be careful not to expose our children to something that is potentially hazardous and does not set them up for success. However, we also need to be careful not to read two lines of an article and then make a big decision with partial or insufficient information. Educate yourself and then do your best. It may not seem like it all the time, but that really is enough.