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Technology: Screen time can be good

Technology: Screen time can be good

We have all been there.  We are busy or just need a moment to ourselves, but our child is looking for nonstop attention.

You want to just set them in front of the TV for a short while or let them play on your phone, but then you think of all those parenting naysayers.  The ones who act like you are a terrible parent if your child is in front of a screen versus running around or socializing.

Well, it turns out, screen time can be good for children.

The benefits of screen time

It is not all bad.  Technology can be a great learning tool for kids, especially as it evolves to adapt to each user’s skill level and needs.  Here are a few snippets of research supporting the benefits of screen time:

  • A recent SRI study shows that game-based learning can boost cognitive learning for students sitting on the median by 12%.
  • Kids bond over games.  A Parents article revealed that young boys frequently focus their conversations on games (and girls!). Their study even found that children with mild learning disabilities were likely to choose “making new friends” as a reason they played video games.
  • A new study from Beth Israel Medical Center has just suggested that videogamers make better surgeons.
  • “Coviewing” – or watching TV shows alongside your child – can increase learning and discussion.
  • Children can learn social skills like sharing, problem solving and sensitivity by watching programs like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street.
  • Children can improve their vocabulary and early language skills by watching age-appropriate educational programs.

Everything in moderation

Just because there are benefits to screen time doesn’t mean you should always allow screen time.  Here are a few tips for moderating screen time and making the most of it:

Control the content

Always know what your kids are watching and playing.  Follow the rating system.  If a game is rated M for mature, it is not meant for young children.  Watch the shows or play the games, too, so you know what messages are being directed at your child. You can also use websites like SmartFeed where other parents test out and rate media for you and your kids.

Set a timer

Timers are a nice way to prevent your child from asking for “just 5 more minutes.” Let them set the timer so they can learn about setting boundaries and feel like they are responsible and in control.

Ask questions

If you can’t co-view a show or play a game with your child, you can still help your child get more from the experience by talking about the show or game. Here are a few questions to get the conversation started:

  • Tell me what happened in the show.
  • What did the characters do?
  • Do you agree with what the characters did?  Why or why not?
  • What did the characters talk about?
  • How did you feel watching the show?  Why?
  • What was your favorite part?  Why?
  • What part didn’t you like?  Why?
  • What questions do you have? (e.g., meaning of words, actions of characters, etc.)

Variety is the spice of life – and the best way for children to learn.  So mix up how your child plays.  Play inside, outside and allow screen time.  All of these different activities will teach your kids different skills – mental, physical and emotional.

Image Copyright: Borges Samuel/123RF

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