HOW MUCH IS KIDS’ OVER-USE OF SCREEN TIME A PARENTING ISSUE?

HOW MUCH IS KIDS’ OVER-USE OF SCREEN TIME A PARENTING ISSUE?

We are all in the early stages of grappling with the impacts of parenting screen time  — positive and negative – that screen time has on young people. In the recent past, in this blog space, we have touched on some negatives and some positives.

Parents are grappling with this as well, since the speed in which technology continues to evolve is at a pace that is difficult for most parents to grasp, on top of everything else going on in their lives.

We asked Dr. Michelle Ponti, Chair of the Canadian Paediatric Society Digital Health Task Force, for her thoughts on how much of all this is a parenting issue:

“Parents are aware of the issues but tend to feel powerless to stop the technology trends as it has evolved so quick. Parents are asking about harmful effects, setting limits (including time spent on screen), and appropriate content.  Parents are more and more using the screen as a “reward” or to stop bad behavior and taking away screens/mobile device as a consequence. Parents/adults, themselves, are struggling with limiting their own screen use (for example, we need laws to not “text and drive”!)

Indeed, as Dr. Ponti concurs, role modeling is huge — for example, parents not using their phones at the dinner table because they don’t want their kids to use their phones. Also, how young are the kids when they are getting their tech, and how are they being introduced to it? Is it a free for all, with no limits? Often children have their own cellphone, with unlimited WIFI, or computers in their room. It then becomes harder to take it away, or to then give it back in limited doses.

Kids won’t moderate usage themselves if they are using technology to deal with difficult feelings. It is very hard for anyone at any age to delay impulses once they have developed a problematic relationship with a screen – especially if it’s a younger person, who still has a developing brain. So parents are needed to help support that process. And if the parents are not on board or around there will be limited success.

Parents need to be involved at every stage!

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