Twenty-three years ago, my children were between the ages of two and five. Computers were not a mainstay in everyone’s home and the definition of screen time related to watching television. Just like today, we had Sesame Street and Thomas the Train. These programs taught children counting, addition, spelling and some programs focused on teamwork and friendships. Did we allow them to watch television – of course we did! Were we worried that too much television was going to harm them? Again, I would say yes, we were concerned about this. Was it founded on any research? Honestly, not from my perspective. It was based on what I thought I knew about the situation. Regardless, as a parent I believed that it was my responsibility to monitor what my children were watching and to encourage and provide a multitude of opportunities for them to be active and spend time outside. Let me fast forward to 2019.
Today, parents are tasked with the same challenges as we were in the 1990’s. However, these days, it is more complex. Today there are games for the iPhone, iPad and other technology. Children can text friends, and any information is just one google search away.
Etchells disagreed with the notion that childhood health and well being is declining because of an increase in screen-based lifestyles (para 1). In fact, he agrees that it needs to be monitored, however, he suggests that there has to be quality research and evidence supporting this claim. To date, that research does not exist. In addition, he states that the content that students encounter is far more important (to their development) than the quantity (duration) of screen time (para 2).
My perspective is that children in 2019 have many more opportunities to grow and develop their minds and thinking patterns with the use of technology. As Etchells stated, digital technologies are part of our children’s lives, necessarily so in the 21st century (para 3). I am blessed to have a granddaughter who is 18 months old. She understands how to swipe right on an iPhone, or touch the screen to make the animal move or point to an object to start and stop the music in a You Tube video. Does she watch Sesame Street on TV – absolutely yes. She also has the opportunity to use the iPad in order to watch Sesame Street.
Technology provides children today the opportunity to learn more, experience more and grow as little people. The opportunities for learning are endless. Although technology has changed, and screen time may be increased, we need evidence as opposed to opinion that too much screen time is detrimental to our children.
Etchells, P., et al. (January 6, 2017). Screen Time Guidelines should be built on evidence, not hype. The Guardian.