Most of my child’s screen time comes from school. They seem to always be doing something on a tablet. What is a parent to do? We only watch movies on weekends but he seems to be getting so much screen time.

That is an excellent question. I would say that screen time is certainly not all bad – it depends on how it is used and for what purpose.

The push in schools to use technology to teach accomplishes both teaching content and teaching the use of technology, which is an important skill. For school work, even during screen time, interactive discussion and support with the parent when possible encourages collaboration, discussion and learning, and is very different than more mindless screen time spent passively watching a show without thought, creativity or human interaction. It is that type of passive and non-interactive screen time that seems to be less valuable; and too much of that can cause problems.

Given that you limit more recreational screen time, I would not be too concerned. One word of caution, though, is that experts advise not allowing exposure to screens for 30-60 minutes before bed, as that can interfere with sleep. However, if you are concerned that too much learning is being done via technology, feel free to ask your child’s teacher if there are alternate ways you can have your child learn at home via activities, worksheets or simply by reading a book with a parent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eleanor Mackey, PhD, is a child psychologist and works primarily with the Obesity Institute and Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Mackey is also a mother of two girls.

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