Learning to Manage Screen Time with Your Child
Media can be delivered to us at any time of day or night on devices that fit in our pockets, or on screens that fill our walls. We are immersed with sound from nearly invisible earbuds, or from booming 8-channel speaker systems that make the multiplex sound engineers envious. The media comes from Hollywood studios and world-class music labels or from the fourteen-year-old down the street with an iPhone and a good imagination. This was the stuff of science fiction 30 years ago when the Internet was just being created and over the course of a single generation, the future arrived or rather bombarded us on screens.
We are still adjusting to this neverending access to videos, music, games, memes, and messages. It is a challenge to find a way to manage this flood of entertainment and to juggle immediate contact with family, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It is hard enough for adults who have vague memories of a time when there was a TV in only one room of the house and an “instant message” meant a parent yelling out the window to call you inside for supper. Children growing up as we approach the year 2020 need guidance from adults to learn how to manage media on screens from the virtual world while also forming strong social connections in the real world.
Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the best first step is limiting screen time and access to media for children and youth of all ages. Pediatricians also recommend that when children and young people do access media it is best when it supports learning and is viewed with parents present or that parents are aware of the media that older children are watching. The American Psychological Association echoes these recommendations while also emphasizing that young people need time away from screens so that they can develop healthy relationships with friends and adults which will not fully develop through social media posts or video games when communicating over headsets. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has reported noteworthy concerns that access to smartphones and tablets among infants and toddlers can delay language development and socialization skills.
The Watertown Public School community values the guidance from these professional associations. We recognize that we can work together and partner with families by sharing information about how media and screen time impacts children. Children learn best when they hear consistent messages about responsibly using technology in school and at home. All teachers, principals, and related service providers are available to answer any questions you might have about working to help your child use technology in a way that is productive and does not limit the development of healthy language, emotional and social skills.
We recommend that you make your own family media use plan. Media should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. When used thoughtfully and appropriately, media can add to the quality of your family life. When screen time is not monitored, media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime, and sleep. Please follow this link and develop a media use plan just for your family.