Increasingly, parents and teachers are asking me "How much screen time is OK?"And honestly, I do not have an answer for that question. Maybe we should ask, "What is the quality of media accessed, how does it fit with family routine, and how do parents engage with devices and media?"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to help their children develop healthy media use habits early on. Devices such as iPhones and iPads have many purposes and are multi-functioning and, therefore, labelling their use as 'Screen-Time' might be misleading. When we consider more and more schools are moving towards BYOD or 1:1 initiatives and are 'flipping the classroom,' we must also take into account that not all screen time is screen time.
The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time:
- Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
- Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
- Communication: video-chatting and using social media
- Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music
It is arguable that there is no difference at all, and that screen-time is simply that, but we must consider that eating an apple diet does not necessarily make us healthier nor does drinking milk every day ensure that we will never break a bone. With that said, I recommend striking a balance between the above activities and engaging in dialogue with your son or daughter in hopes of fostering a healthy relationship regarding online activities.