These days, if you buy your kid a mobile device, it may as well come along with a 300-page parenting manual.
It seems that screens are the new evil; they cause obesity, vision problems, depression and anxiety, social issues, addictive tendencies, violent outbursts, defiance, poor academic performance.
Basically, if you’re a parent, they are your absolute worst nightmare.
I’m here in defense of screens. This doesn’t mean I think the risks listed above are nonsense, but I think it’s important sometimes to always take a look at the other side of the coin.
Here’s why screens may not be your kids worst enemy:
They are great educational resources.
With a device and internet connection, your kid can learn about literally anything. How to play guitar, how to speak chinese, all about the solar system… Anything your child shows interest in, they can explore to no end online.
Fifty years ago, if kids wanted to learn something, they had to go to the library, check out books and read outdated information. Now, screens allow our children to access up-to-date information in fun, engaging online environments. In my opinion, this is nothing short of amazing.
They bring down barriers to support.
Mental health problems come with stigma. Back when, if you were a kid or teen struggling with depression, anxiety, or being bullied at school, getting support wasn’t easy. Today, the internet provides easily accessible, anonymous support for the youth that need it most. This is nothing short of awesome.
They improve literacy.
Books aren’t for everyone… But the internet is.
With internet and apps, kids are exposed to a huge variety of reading material, and according to the Raising Children Network, social media and the internet has been directly related to increased literacy for kids, especially younger kids who can now use educational apps to learn fundamentals at an early age.
They keep kids connected.
Research shows that screens actually help kids and teens feel more connected to their peers, and even feel more outgoing and confident. While it may seem a bit counterintuitive that your child is zoning out at a family meal to instant message their friends, it’s important to remember that kids today socialize differently, and that social bonds are really important – at any age, but especially for youth.
How parents can keep screen time balanced.
Even though I just listed off some great (and oft-neglected) benefits of device use, it’s important to keep in mind that unlimited screen access is never a good idea.
Setting clear boundaries and limitations around how and when screens can be used is essential. The best way to do this is by setting clear, and using resources to help out.
A great app to keep everyone accountable to these limits is OurPact. It’s free, and lets parents remotely manage children’s access to Internet and apps at-a-touch or through automated schedules. It’s as easy as signing up for an account at OurPact’s website, or in the iOS OurPact parent app, pairing up kids devices, and then taking control.
This means that when you say screens are OK, they can be used, and when you want them off, you can reinforce your request with a push of a button. In other words, it means that you can keep the benefits and downfalls of screens in check with one app, at any time.