Even During A Pandemic, Parents Should Limit Kids’ Screen Time

An education expert advises parents to be patient, flexible and collaborative when making rules about how much time kids spend using screens during lockdown.

By Laura RiceApril 28, 2020 2:16 pm, ,

With many of us working, studying and entertaining ourselves online, our lives now, perhaps more than ever, revolve around screens. Some adults may be feeling overexposure to their blue glow. But what about kids?

Jon Lasser, coauthor of “Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World,” is also associate dean in the College of Education at Texas State University. He told Texas Standard in an interview Tuesday that parents need to be “patient, flexible and collaborate with their kids” when it comes to screen time.

But he also said that doesn’t mean children should have unlimited exposure to screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids under 18 months shouldn’t use screens at all, except, Lasser said, for video conferences with family members who can’t be reached in person. For older children, screen time should be limited to one hour per day.

“What we do know, anecdotally, is that when screen time begins to eclipse other important behaviors and functions like sleep and physical activity, we start to see problems,” he said.

Without thorough research into the issue, Lasser said it’s unclear the degree to which screen time actually causes behavior changes, or whether kids who are more drawn to using screens often also have a propensity for anxiety or depression.

There also seems to be a difference between screen time used for creative expression versus when screens are used to binge-watch streaming TV or movies.

The end of shelter-in-place will probably result in more conversations among parents and others about how to go back to managing screen time more closely, Lasser said. 

“I think parents right now have an opportunity to encourage their children to creatively problem-solve, and look into alternative choices and ways of getting outside,” he said.

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.


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