This is inspired by all the families in Parenting for a Digital Future, the book I reviewed earlier this week (I also added this as a sidebar in that post for readers’ convenience). It’s a little exercise to explain and expand on the statement I led the review with: “family context eclipses screen time.”
Please customize to make it meaningful to your family. Instead of watching the clock to measure screen time, take a family environmental scan – just you or together as a family. Questions you might consider:
- What do we value as a family? or What’s important to us?
- What’s going on in our family these days?
- What’s happening in our household right now?
- What’s happening out in the world that’s affecting our family and each one of us individually?
- What’s going on in our heads (parent’s and child’s)?
- Only after thinking about some of those, ask, “How can our devices and the apps on them serve us – what we value, what’s going on with each one of us right now and how we’re doing as a family?
There are certainly many other questions parents can ask themselves which point to children’s basic needs, which of course need to be addressed first and foremost. Here are some the authors offered parents back in 2017 in their essay, “The trouble with ‘screen time rules’”: Is my child “eating and sleeping enough? physically healthy? connecting socially with friends and family – through technology or otherwise? engaged in school? enjoying and pursuing hobbies and interests – through technology or beyond?” They continue, “If the answer to these questions is more or less ‘yes’, then perhaps the problem of ‘screen time’ is less dramatic than many parents have been led to believe. The notion of ‘addiction’ to the screen requires particular care, and certainly cannot be determined by simple measures of time.”