Why I say YES to Screentime for Kids


Young boy holding a tablet and smiling. Screentime for kids.I used to love looking over and finding one of my three kids with their nose in a book. It feels like the ultimate parenting win: look at my kid calmly learning something over there, all by himself!

But these days it’s far more common to find my kids with fingers on tablets, phones and laptops rather than noses in books. Like it or not, these are the “new books” in our household, and rather than fighting it, I’ve started embracing it and have found that it’s changing the game in my household.

“Can I use the iPad, Mom?”

“YES,” is my bold new refrain and it feels great.

How can I be such a bad parent, to say YES to screentime for kids?

Well besides the obvious benefit of the time I get back to make dinner, do laundry and answer work emails while my kids are using technology, there’s a real benefit to THEM. Because I realized, it’s not what they have in their hands, it’s the messaging coming at them from all that technology that matters. Find great content and you’ll feel great about them using technology. Not 24/7 of course….we do love being outside.

Turns out, just like books or even food, there are fantastic, engaging, nutritious apps, games and movies, and loads of terrible, delicious ones. Kids tend to gravitate toward the lowest common denominator (they like comic books and Cheetos too, right?). But it’s hard to feel great about your kid’s 746th game of Angry Birds.

A Mission to Find Good – Nutritious – Media

But I’ve been on a quest to find better, more compelling, more inspiring stuff and am even starting a company called SmartFeed to address this. The good stuff is out there and can even help me reinforce the values we care about as a family. It has certainly involved lots of gentle guidance to go from Cheetos to vegetables in terms of media choices in our house, but we’re getting there and we’re seeing positive results.

With SmartFeed, we’re working to bring together all of the amazing resources out there trying to help parents make media decisions and aggregate them in a way parents can quickly and repeatable navigate the Wild West of kids’ media today. Some of our favorite go-to resources:

  1. Common Sense
  2. The Representation Project
  3. Children’s Technology Review
  4. Teach with Movies

On the first day of summer, our kids were begging for time with tablets. So, I sat them down to watch the short film Denali, about a young man and his powerful bond with his dog. The kids were obviously moved by the story, and after it was over they jumped up and said, “Mom we need to take the dog for a walk.”

See, we even managed to get outside.

Do you see a shift in your own parent media management mentality? If so, any tips on how to be the “USDA Organic” Stamp of Approval for our kids?

Linsly Donnelly

Linsly Donnelly is the author of Happy-Go-Local: The Smart Mom's Guide to Living the Good (and sustainable) Life! and the founder of Smart Feed, a tool for parents that curates, delivers, manage and connect to their kids’ digital media experience. Join their KickStarter campaign to be part of the movement.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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