This week at NPR, Anya Kamenetz offered a refreshing perspective on how parents should approach technology in their homes. In a brief summary of her new book, The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media And Real Life, Kamenetz summarizes the “best practices” she found in her research on kids and tech.
Without demonizing technology, Kamenetz acknowledges the need for families to set boundaries in their use of screens. And, as she emphasizes, parents should help their kids find a “balance” between real life and the time they spend with technology.
According to Eric Rasmussen of Texas Tech, “Parents are the biggest influence on kids in how they respond to media.” In her article, Kamenetz cites Rasmussen’s point that parents should focus less on making strict rules about screen time and more on communicating with their kids about media and the pros and cons of various available technologies. The implicit idea behind this is that parents should help to instill in kids a view of media that will later lead them make wise choices about technology independently.
Kamenetz also points out the learning benefits of technology. As she notes, it creates many new and exciting avenues for kids to learn important life skills. She suggests that parents shouldn’t ignore these “joys of screens” but rather learn how to share in those joys with her kids. Writing as a parent herself, she says, “We can model the use of technology for creation, discovery and connection.” Rather than allowing technology to turn into a source of dissention and division, they should seek to use the gift of screens to grow closer as families.
To sum up the “best practices” she touches on in her book, Kamenetz adapts Michael Pollan’s “famous Food Rules” in seven words (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plans.”) to screen time. In her version, she suggests that families “Enjoy screens. Not too much. Mostly together.” As all families who choose to apply this will find, living out this seven-word principle just takes a measure of discipline and a lot of team effort.
Leah Hickman is a 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College’s English program. She freelances for BreakPoint.org and has written pieces for multiple Hillsdale College campus publications as well as for ChristianAnswers.net/Spotlight and the Discover Laura Blog. Read more by Leah at aworldofgrasspeople.blogspot.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Diego_Cervo
Publication date: January 31, 2018