“Decrease your screen time!”
“Have a screen-free summer with us!”
“Say no to video games!”
“Limit your kid’s screen time to x amount of minutes a day!”
Do these headlines sound familiar? There is so much propaganda out there against screen time for kids, we as teachers and parents are constantly being told (ironically through media) that we are doing our kids a disservice by allowing them screen time, in any fashion.
I do agree that spending our days glued to screens and media is not healthy.
But maybe demonizing screen time is just as unhealthy.
Putting screens on a pedestal and telling our students, “You can play educational games on your laptops after you’ve done 20 minutes of reading.”
Or telling our kids, “You cannot watch TV until you finish your homework!”
Statements like these inadvertently tell our kids, “Reading and homework aren’t fun, so you have to do those first before you can have something fun, like a movie or computer game.” It’s putting screens on a different, higher level and telling kids that they are inaccessible unless all hoops have been jumped through.
We (try) to reframe screen time in our house by wording it like this, (and I say try because we’re still working on it and doing our best!)
“Today in class we are doing 20 minutes of reading and 20 minutes of educational computer games. You can choose which you do first, but everyone needs to do both. I will set a timer for 20 minutes, you can choose to pull out a book or your laptop, but once the 20 minutes is over everyone will switch to the opposite task.”
“This evening we have to finish up some homework and we have some time for a TV show. Do you want to watch one episode first, or do your homework first?”
It’s not perfect. And it’s not going to work 100% of the time in every single situation. But our world has come to the point where the usage of screens is essential to daily life, and the usage of screens is only going up. The kids in schools right now will be using more screens and media in their jobs than we can even imagine, so allowing them the time to *safely* and *properly* use screens and make them a normal part of our day instead of demonizing them and making them seem higher and better than anything else will only serve them in the long run.
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