Thursday, February 21, 2013

Think twice before limiting screentime

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting a child's screentime to no more than one or two hours a day because, they say too much screen time has been linked to the following issues: Obesity. Irregular sleep (see #7). Behavioral problems. Impaired academic performance. Violence. Less time for play.

This begs the questions:
How much does this century-old academy really know about screen time? It seems not much. This out-of-touch Academy confuses passive television watching with interactive screen time which makes it a flawed study to begin with. Next up: Why don’t they address the research that supports that sitting in school all day leads to many of these problems as well? 

If the AAP really wanted to help address these issues, instead of focusing on parents and screens, they’d be making recommendations to schools about things like getting kids up and out of their seats.

Rather than scapegoating screen time, why not focus on empowering young people to make smart decisions about what they should be doing to combat these issues? After all, the reality is that a screen can be a window to enabling students to reach the personal goals they will need for success in the world. Why would we want to limit that?

We never hear that we need to limit book, paper, pen, or calculator time...all tools that reside inside screens. Yet, it is via screens that we can read, write, calculate, code, create, publish for/with real audiences and connect with others who share our passions, talents, and interests. It is via screens that people have access to learning whatever they want whenever they want.

We’ve learned from students like Travis Allen and Nick Perez that limiting screens in school is keeping them prisoners of their teacher’s past. Such restrictions shouldn’t be imposed at home as well. It’s time to stop putting blanket limits on children and start giving them the freedom to learn and live with the tools and support that best help them reach their dreams.