What’s real vs. fake screen time news? We dispel the myths.
Myth 1: My kid is addicted to devices.
A survey from Common Sense Media found that 47 percent of parents worry that their child is addicted to their mobile device. “It affects, if you talk about true addiction, somewhere between five and eight percent of children and young adults,” says Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, the director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. More kids, instead, lean toward a compulsive use of devices, which parents can still manage by implementing an effective media plan and digital parental controls.
Myth 2: All screen time is bad.
Not quite: Facetiming with grandparents or watching a movie with the family? Healthy screen time. Scrolling endlessly through “toy unboxing” videos on YouTube? Unhealthy screen time. In fact, a 2018 study in Child Development found that digital screen use, on its own, has little to no effect on a child’s psychological well being. Instead, it’s more about how parents set screen time rules (if at all) and whether they’re actively engaged in what their kids are watching.
Myth 3: Video games can cause depression.
Games like Fortnite and Minecraft have many parents concerned, but there’s a silver lining when played in moderation. Studies show that certain games can improve hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and the mind's ability to process information. A recent study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, also found that out of all forms of screen time, video gaming was the one form that was neutral in its effects on teen depression. Still, video games shouldn’t replace exercise or IRL time with friends.
Myth 4: All educational apps are created equal.
Developers behind some “educational“ apps don’t have a background in child learning. For example, a Vanderbilt University study found that girls fared better than boys when using a learning app designed for the study. The fact is that boys and girls develop differently (between 2 and 5 years old, girls have better impulse control and better coordination). So how do you know what’s educational for your child and what’s just another addictive app? Checking out Best App lists from research-backed sources is a good start.
Myth 5: Screen time limits are just for kids.
Adults spend an average of 11 hours a day in front of screens. “Many parents are trying to navigate this new digital world challenged by their own issues around social media and technology use,” says Ana Homayou, author of Social Media Wellness. Pew research shows that parents are dealing with the same screen time issues as are their kids. Nearly 60 percent of parents of teens say they sometimes feel obligated to respond to text messages immediately and 36 percent say they spend too much time on their phones. Modeling healthy screen time use (do you really need to check that text mid-meal?) can keep everyone in check.
Myth 6: It’s too late to set limits in my home.
Consistent limit setting can help kids get back on track toward a healthier digital lifestyle—at any age. Talk to your kids about setting new screen time house rules (check out some conversation cues). Then consider leveraging Circle, to customize Time Limits, Filters, Bedtimes, and Off Times. This’ll help you balance screen time with time spent on homework, activities and sleep,