The Good & Bad of Screen Time — What You Need to Know

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Everywhere I go, parents, teachers, even young people themselves complain of a growing concern about our screen-focused lives. We’re spending more time staring at screens and less time in the wonders of nature, in conversation with friends, in valuable silent contemplation and engaged with others in community or civic activity. It’s not good on many fronts. I’m not saying we should chuck our screens forever, but we need a healthier balance.” Annie Leonard, Co-Founder Story of Stuff Project

children_cellphonesAs I was sitting in my tiny airplane seat waiting for departure, I perused the magazine in the seat pocket in front of me. After all, I had to turn my cell phone and tablet to airplane mode. In fact, I had to put them away for take off. What in the world was I supposed to do with my idle time?

While perusing the magazine, I came across the following: “You may have suspected as much, but you and your smartphone are in a pretty ugly codependent relationship.” What? Really?

According to Russell Clayton, a Ph.D. Student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, we’re so attached to our iPhones that being away from them can cause a form of separation anxiety with real-word physiological and cognitive consequences. In a study he conducted, adults’ heart rate and blood pressure rose when their cell phones were taken away from them. He concluded that people view their phones as an extension of themselves.

I’m appalled that we’ve let ourselves come to this. I don’t want to believe that we are this obsessed with our little screens, but I think it is true. I’ve experienced adults freaking out when they can’t find their phones. What message are we sending our children?

I admit that I am a minority on this topic because I don’t freak out at losing my phone. I’m not overly obsessed with checking it, but I do depend on it entertaining me and keeping me connected to the world more than I’d like to concede.

I used to be an anti-screen time mom. I soon realized that it is nearly impossible to stay that way.

Screens are everywhere. It is a part of our cultural fiber nowadays.

So how did I become a pro- screen time mom? Well, I remembered the wise words of my dad: Keep everything in life in balance, moderation. I came to the conclusion that his advice for life applies to screen time too. So I set up screen time guidelines for my family.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average child spends about seven hours a day looking at screens be it video games, computer, cell phone, tablet, or television. Yikes! That is not moderation. Moderation, according to A.A.P., is two hours a day.

As you think about how screen time affects your family and how you will incorporate screens or not into your family, please remember that screen time has good and bad outcomes.

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