Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Screentime Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. My Thoughts.

Finally! The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their stance on screentime.  The new guidelines are better than the previously outdated ones which I critique here, here, and here, but there is still room for improvement. They continue to miss mark when it comes to the power of screens to make global connections, build learning networks, and bring people closer together.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Here are some counter-points to consider.
Don’t Set Limits
The AAP suggests parents should set limits. While that might seem like good advice, it does little to empower young people to think about making good decisions for themselves. Rather than setting limits, talk to kids about what they care about and want to accomplish and help them figure out the best ways to do that.
Attentive Parenting Might Involve Screens
The AAP says attentive parenting requires face time away from screens. What it really means is that parents need to spend time with their kids. That might very well involve screens. Maybe you read a book aloud from a screen. Perhaps you recreate a building in Minecraft together. Perhaps you are a parent that travels and you facetime with your child (via a screen). Time away from screens is not the answer. Time being attentive to your child in their worlds with or away from screens is what is important.

Curation Helps and We Can Help Young People Curate
AAP suggests sites like Common Sense Media to determine appropriate digital resources. Good advice, but it doesn’t go far enough. We can help empower children to think about what will help them learn and grow effectively.
Playtime Can Involve Technology
The AAP discusses the importance of play to stimulate creativity. You can play using screens to create. You can also use screens to help get physical activity. There is a huge industry with fun and interactive options from providers such as Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, and Microsoft Xbox Connect. Lets face it. With the hours parents work and by the time children are home from school, playing outside often isn’t an option.  What matters is that kids are moving, with or without the presence of screens.
Bedrooms Don’t Have to Be Tech Free
Would we have book free bedrooms? Toy free bedrooms? For most the answer is no. Don’t ban technology from the bedroom. There are great ways technology can be used before bedtime. Instead, help your children make good choices.  

Can people misuse screens? Sure, but it’s not the screen that’s the problem, but rather the actions and the decisions of the people in front of, and behind them. Let’s focus on that and address any real issues at hand.

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