How much screen time is too much screen time? Lessons from tech gurus
If you are reading MBRB on the sly while your little one plays on the I Pad, we won’t judge. Hey, most of the writing for MBRB gets done while our little one watches one of those nails-on-chalkboard Peppa Pigs or Caillou videos on Youtube!
So imagine our surprise when we found out that most tech mavens themselves don’t allow their kids too much time with these devices!
As Nick Bilton recounts in Your Daily Read:
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
As Bilton goes on to report, a surprising number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists limit the amount of time their kids can spend on tech devices. Surely, they know something we don’t!
Chris Anderson, the former Editor of Wired says:
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Interesting, says the MBRB editor- surreptitiously trying to wrangle her daughter’s ILove from her tiny fingers. Our own views on this are surprisingly more laissez faire. The child’s got to do something, and there’s only so many times a day we can take her to the slides. So whatever works, really!
Perhaps our favourite approach comes from another techie parent- Ali Partovi -who advocates a distinction between time spent “consuming” and “creating” on the screen.
Just as I wouldn’t dream of limiting how much time a kid can spend with her paintbrushes, or playing her piano, or writing, I think it’s absurd to limit her time spent creating computer art, editing video, or computer programming.
The entire issue about screen time is dicey because theirs is the first generation that is growing up with technology so pervasive everywhere. We don’t know any 25, 30 or 40 year olds who spent their childhood cooped up with the latest apps, so we cannot say for sure if these devices make them smarter, funnier, unhealthier, anti-social or just the “new normal”- whatever that may be.
As with everything, perhaps the best approach is to build the rules for yourself as you and your child grow together. Don’t worry about the after effects of indulgence, but also, don’t fear saying NO.
We leave the last word to Hanna Rosin, who wrote a wonderfully rich column on technology and children last year (save this one on your devices for a leisurely read) called “The Touch Screen Generation“
“Every new medium has, within a short time of its introduction, been condemned as a threat to young people. Pulp novels would destroy their morals, TV would wreck their eyesight, video games would make them violent. (……….).But parents know this is not how life works. There are enough hours in a day to go to school, play a game, and spend time with a parent, and generally these are different hours.”
What do you think?
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