Love them or hate them, a new tablet is on many people’s mind during these uncertain times. However, along with the purchase of a new tablet inevitably comes the guilt of giving your children more “screen time”. Now, before the guilt sets in let me clear up some of the misperceptions that many parents have about tablets and screen time.
Syping with Grandma, playing games, and watching YouTube can all be valuable ways for your children to spend time in front of the screen. In particular, playing games has been associated with improved cognitive skills such as creative thinking, hand-eye coordination, and multi-tasking. Watching YouTube at a young age may even help them speak faster and have a larger vocabulary through modelling.
…and we all know there is no way we are going to make it through the lockdown without Skyping or Facetiming Grandma.
At the end of the day, the best guidelines for screen time use are common sense ones:
- It should not be your child’s only leisure activity
- It should not interfere with their obligations and responsibilities (if it is, then they are using it too much)
- Having electronic devices of any kind is a privilege not a right (this is a particularly important point when it comes to regulating use among teenagers!)
So, go ahead and buy that tablet for your little one. While you are at it, why not also pick up a copy of A Parent’s Guide to Video Games! This book draws from over 100 scientific studies to address the specific topics that parents have the most concern about in relation to media effects, such as addiction, aggression, and its impact on physical and mental health. And while the book focuses on games specifically, a lot of the information presented in the book can be generalized to various kinds of screen use.
Games for them. Peace of mind for you. Continued-communication with grandparents during school closure and community lockdown. That sounds like a win to me!!
RACHEL KOWERT is a research psychologist from Austin, Texas, with a PhD in psychology from the University of York (UK) and an MA in counseling psychology from Santa Clara University. Dr. Kowert has dedicated her career to studying video games and the gamers who love them. She has published several books on this topic, including the award winning “A Parent’s Guide to Video Games”. As a researcher, psychologist, gamer and parent, she strives to educate other parents about the potential dangers and unique contributions that video games can bring to our everyday lives.