In this technology cranked up age, we have all been brainwashed to believe TV and video games are as evil as an enormous pimple on your wedding day. If we are to believe common thought, the onslaught of electronics will rot your children's brains, make them socially backward and leave them glued to the couch forever more - annihilating society as know it. Hold up! Are we all just a bunch of boneheads for thinking this? We think perhaps it's time to say goodbye to the fear-mongers as we share five ways screen time is actually GOOD for your kids.
1. It's All About the Co-viewing
OK so dumping your kids in front of the boob tube as a babysitter for hours on end is clearly as smart as a bulldog chewing on a wasp, but according to a report by The Joan Hanz Cooney Center, co-viewing in terms of both the TV platform, and other digital platforms has social, emotional and educational benefits; helping to increase learning and discussion, reduce fear and aggression, not to mention being a good excuse for some precious snuggle time.
So rather than you mindlessly staring at the screen like you're ten shy of a dozen (hey, we know you're not really), ask them about what they are seeing on the screen, where else they have seen it, the behavior of the characters they are watching, etc. In other words, TALK ABOUT IT. The key here is television as an active, (rather than a rotting sack of potatoes), experience.
And if you don't have time to co-view with them? Ask them about the show afterward, what the characters did, how they felt, which was their favorite part and so on. It ain't rocket science after all.
2. OMG! Video Games Make Your Kids Better Adjusted??!
This statement may sound as nutty as a fruitcake, but Holy Guacamole it is so! Playing video games reportedly does make your kids better adjusted. What??! We all thought playing video games turned them into mindless, dribbling, socially malfunctioning, indoor-dwelling zombie freaks? How can this be true?! A recent study Oxford University found that kids that played up to an hour of video games a day between the ages of 10 - 15 were happier, more sociable and less hyperactive. Well, slap us silly.
If you're still scared that screen time will mean that your little darlings will never see the light of day and therefore turn into bloodsucking vampires, a large-scale study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that kids who had a computer and/or a television set in their bedrooms were significantly more likely to play outside than kids who didn't have such easy and private access to screen time. Gadzooks!
3. Do It for the Boys
Parents of boys know that getting our resident would-be champs to read can be as difficult as trying to break iron with our bare hands (hmmm expect, that would probably be easier right?), and so happily, recent research by the National Literacy Trust has shown technology can be a "more engaging learning tool" for three- to five-year-old squirts of the male kind than books, with boys twice as likely as girls to spend more time with stories on touch screens than printed stories.
Say what??! It may seem madder than a box of frogs, but this particular study found that children aged three to five often read for longer and had a better handle on vocabulary when they had access to touch-screen technology. For the love of an iPad, we ki(n)dle you not!
4. Teaching Real World Skills
So we adults might not get the current Minecraft craze but the fact is - we should embrace games like this. Now, now. . .we hear you all groan - but hear us out. The reason being, drumroll please. . .it teaches valuable life skills according to a paper published in the Review of General Psychology.
Should we really be worried that kids across the Western world are spending hours learning life skills like budgeting, financial skills, patience, perseverance, teamwork not to mention creativity, engineering know-how, history, math and English? Yes, these are all things it takes to excel in this game that is as mysterious to us adults as a sweaty watermelon.
5. Showing the Family Love
Yes, no joke! According to research by the Journal of Adolescent Research, video game players, be they male or female, demonstrated higher levels of family closeness, activity involvement, attachment to school and positive mental health. Apparently, we owe our thanks and gratitude to all those family games on the market.
So next time you feel the words "turn that thing off" about to escape your mouth, quit being a jerk, pick up that spare controller and get busy instead. You may feel as silly as a baby elephant in a tub, but you have seized the day! Now who's for a game of Mario Kart?
Embrace the Screen Time
With technology here to stay, do we just need to get over our feverish screen time neurosis, swallow a chill pill and embrace screen time for its virtues? We could just drive ourselves into a big fat dribbling and twitchy mess about its shortcomings or perhaps instead, give it a little pat on the back for some of the positives it brings to this messy parenting table. Clearly, as is the case with all things in this parenting game, screen time is about common sense.