The current boom in mobile gadgets means that almost everyone can have access to handheld devices, including kids. And in this tech-reliant society, there are still many parents who are confused if it’s okay to let their children turn on the TV or pick up a smartphone to have their own screen time.
Although there are numerous researches which state that screen time is not recommended for kids, especially during early ages, there are also other studies which say that total abstinence is not necessary. To clarify, Common Sense Media specified that the important part regarding this issue is the term ‘reduced usage’ or ‘limited use’ when it comes to gadgets.
It was implied that screen time is fine for fostering your relationship with your children as a means of bonding and engaging activity, but it was also emphasized that screen time should not replace your child’s time with you. In other words, don’t let your child be engrossed in his/her own screen interaction instead of interacting with you.
To understand better, families of prominent tech innovators make great examples.
Take the case of the Jobs family. Apple products make the bulk of the fortune of the Jobs family. His tech innovations made the late Steve Jobs the highest paid CEO at the peak of his career. After Steve passed away, his widow Laurene became the wealthiest woman in Silicon Valley mainly due to Apple shares she inherited.
Her net worth surged to over $11 billion as shown in a video clip from The Scene. Considering the significant role that Apple plays in their lives, it’s natural to think that their kids can enjoy the liberty of using Apple gadgets whenever they want.
Surprisingly, that’s not the case at all. An article by the New York Times relayed the story of how the Jobs couple limits the use of technology within their household. Steve even mentioned that their kids haven’t used the iPad when the tablet was all the rage back then. There are also specific instances when or where gadgets are off limits, such as during dinner or when it’s family bonding time during a weekend. This practice is being continued by Laurene.
It’s not just the Jobs family either. The founder of Twitter, Evan Williams, implements similar restrictions for his children, as well as Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics. It appears this is being done by tech CEOs, as they know firsthand how technology can impact their kids.
According to Bright Side, studies have revealed that children are highly receptive to new technology until the age of ten. When you don’t limit their screen time, they can easily become dependent on gadgets. Anderson explained, “It’s because I see danger in obsessive uses of the internet. I remember the problems I encountered with this myself, and I don’t want the same thing to happen to my kids.”
The recommended use of gadgets for kids up to ten years old is only around half an hour per day and if longer engagement is necessary (i.e. for homework research), you can extend the time but don’t let them reach more than two hours. You can gradually increase the limit as they grow older, and researchers have stated that you can remove the restrictions when the child has reached fourteen years old.
Ultimately, it’s about getting the right frequency of screen time and getting the best use out of the gadgets. When you keep in mind that technology is still just a tool to assist and not to take the place of day to day interactions, you and your child’s screen time will become a positive experience overall.