- Very high levels of screen time are connected to poor mental well-being
- Very low levels are as well
- There’s a large middle ground with no direct connection to well-being 
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.
When we bought a cellphone for our son, we worried. We worried about how it would affect his brain to be hooked into social media all the time. We worried about online bullying and if he’d be respectful and responsible. We worried that he’d become a video screen monster who never looked up and only grunted in response to our questions about his day at the dinner table.
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.
Here are three tips to help you find good information about health and science topics.
If the source is a person, start by checking that they really exist and that they are a genuine expert on that topic. Both doctors and scientists are usually specialists, so make sure that the source has credentials in the right field. A surgeon won’t necessarily be an expert in physics, for instance, and vice versa.
Level: Grades 7 to 12
Duration: This lesson takes place over two weeks, with roughly three hours class time mandatory and an additional two to six hours for the optional media production activity.
About the Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts
My teens are still young and new to social media, so until now, we’ve mostly been focusing on the risks. Our main message to them has been to be careful, and that less time online is always better.
My three kids all know the password to my phone.
It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.
“Digital technology can have both positive and negative effects on child well-being, depending on the activity and how much time is spent.”
“Screen time” is important…but not as important as what kids do with their screens:
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.