Should Parents Feel Guilty For Allowing Screen Time?

Parenting in the modern day.

An increasing amount of parents have transitioned to working from home as a result of the current COVID-19 lockdowns, and we have seen children spending more time at home than ever before. With this, there is a natural need for entertaining restless young ones, especially when parents are still trying to work and run households successfully. The six-hour productivity window that childcare centres and schools provided all but disappeared for a couple of months, as lockdown restrictions tightened.

While we are seeing restrictions slowly ease across the nation, families are learning that it’s hard to try and keep children entertained without resorting to screens and technology. There’s also an element of parent-guilt associated with allowing children to use screens.

“Parents need to stop thinking about screen time in a negative way,” says Dr. Jenny Radeski M.D., a paediatrician and expert on children and media at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. In the current day, children are not just using screens to play video games and watch cartoons — they are, in fact, using them to connect virtually with their teachers, school friends and extended family members.

It is recognised that screen addiction has the ability to change the brain, but so does every other activity that children engage in. From sleep and homework, to sports and reading; there are a multitude of mediums that alter the way a child’s brain works — both positively and negatively. Children of today are using screens as a means to communicate, socialise and learn — all of which are of utmost importance in an isolated society, and contribute positively to a child’s emotional development.

Many parents are already aware of the biggest downside of screen usage: the way it can interrupt other childhood experiences like sleep, playing outside, creative time and getting into mischief. But it’s more about creating healthy boundaries as opposed to setting specific time limits or recommendations. Dr. Radeski has called for a reduction in the promotion of common screen time recommendations, stating that every child is different in their needs, and the enforcement of such standards allows room for parental guilt and shame.

As long as your child is not on a device all day, they’ll be fine.

If you have any questions about children and technology, get in contact with Kasia by emailing hello@kasiapalko.com.au.

Sources: Cheng, E. R. & Wilkinson, T. A. (2020). Agonizing Over Screen Time? Follow The Three C’s. NY Times.; Carey, B. (2018). Is Screen Time Bad For Kids Brains? NY Times.