Originally published on CBC Parents.
Editor’s note: There is so much conflicting information about screen time, and a lot of it serves to make us feel guilty, worried or both. We asked the Director of Education at Media Smarts (Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy), Matthew Johnson, to give us the straight goods on the latest info. What is the big deal with screen time? Here’s his response.
Kids today are using screens more, earlier, and on a wider variety of devices than ever before, and more and more parents are seeking help in taking control of their children’s screen time.
When screens started being part of our daily lives – not just for work, but for entertainment, communication, and news – we parents had to do some serious thinking. What would the rules be? How would we govern these new devices? What were the best choices?
We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.
Our son turned 15 last month, and we’ve had plenty of wary, nervous comments since then about how driving is just around the corner. Next year, he’ll be getting his beginner’s licence! Just 11 more months before he’s behind the wheel!
My middle daughter, age 13, read the novel The Outsiders last year. She loved it, and like any good mom who was raised in the 1980s, I bought her a DVD copy of the classic movie. She loved the film version, too.
Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. Because most of us aren’t experts on these topics, we rely on people and organizations who are experts for good information. MediaSmarts has developed new resources to help youth and adults find and recognize good information on science and health online.
I work from home, and I think that means my kids get more sick days than the average student. It’s pretty easy for them to convince me that they need a day of rest if they have a bit of a cough or a slight fever. I admit I’m probably too easily swayed and I do tend to cave in when they look up at me with big sad eyes from where they have swooned onto the couch.
A Day in the Life of the Jos is a comprehensive digital citizenship tutorial that prepares students in grades six to eight to deal with all of the issues they face when using digital technology – from online privacy, to cyberbullying, to recognizing what’s real and what’s fake online.