This is the first of the "Dear Tech-y" series, which is designed to support and provide information for Laurence parents about the latest thinking around digital citizenship.
Parents submit questions anonymously, and we answer them. If you would like to submit your anonymous question email Liz Beck with the subject line, Dear Tech-y.
We hear a lot about how bad screen time is, but in doing so are we overlooking the benefits of coding, internet research, and content creation? (I'm talking about supervised screen time, of course.) What if the next Zuckerberg is being discouraged from developing because we're restricting learning that involves a screen?
Dear Anonymous Parent,
When looking for research on screen time, information tends to be conflicting at best. One month, we're learning how some Silicon Valley executives don't allow their children to interact with screens at home and then next we hear new research saying that the negative impact of technology on the wellbeing of children has been wildly overblown.
How can we make educated decisions about screen time when even the experts don't agree?
We can never be sure whether a new study will come out that will debunk everything we thought was true about screen time and there are few meta-analyses about the subject. In an attempt to combat wide swings in our belief systems that inevitably occur when conflicting information is presented, I'm a firm believer in the idea of teaching moderation and balance with any kind of consumption. I wouldn't want my children to eat chocolate cake for dinner, but I'm okay with them having a small slice after a healthy meal. Similarly, I wouldn't want my children to spend 8 hours on a Saturday playing video games, but I am okay with them playing for an hour if they spent the day playing outside, reading, and doing other activities. These types of decisions are personal and will most likely be different for you and your family. If you need help deciding what your values are around screens and how to set limits, check out Our Media Plan and Suggested Family Agreement on the Laurence School Parent Portal for examples of conversation starters about technology at home.
When it comes to the idea of fostering creativity and cultivating an interest in technology, all screen time is not equal. I like to break down screen time into two categories: content creation versus content consumption. There is a difference between using an iPad to film an animation (content creation) versus using an iPad to go on Instagram and look at photos that perpetuate negative body image and attitudes (content consumption). Both my husband and I work in the technology sector and we want to encourage our children to be comfortable, imaginative, and creators using technology. We're inclined to allow extra screen time when my sons are creating animations on Scratch, but hold fast to our screen time rules when they're playing a video game or watching a TV show.
Balance, staying informed, being present for your child(ren), setting limits, teaching decision making and self-regulation skills, are some of the most difficult parts of parenting in the early 21st century. We hope that the Dear Tech-y series is helpful to you! In addition, some of the most fruitful advice has come from parents in our community talking to each other about their struggles and ideas. Please join Mark Tennyson and me for one of the upcoming drop-in parent digital citizenship groups on:
- Tuesday, March 12th, from 8:05-9:05 am
- Monday, April 8th, from 8:05-9:05 am
- Monday, May 6th, from 8:05-9:05 am
- Monday, June 3rd, from 8:05-9:05 am
Don't forget that we have lots of resources available to you on the Digital Citizenship page in the Parent Portal!
Also, if you have a question for the techies, please submit it anonymously to Liz Beck with the subject line, Dear Tech-y.
Director of Technology