The pros and cons of every decision made in life need to always be weighed, especially when children are involved. Both the good and ugly aspects need to be considered and a conclusion drawn up about the best decision. One of the toughest decisions every parent must make is in regards to the minutes or hours, if any, of screen time kids should be allowed to indulge in.
Now more than ever in the modern world of technology, parents need to ask themselves questions such as: "What are the consequences?", "Is this helpful?", "Would doing something else be more beneficial?" and "Will I regret it later in life?" All these questions are valid and help us figure out the best choice for ourselves and for our children. More importantly, the same answer doesn't fit every family.
Struggling to make this decision? Want to weigh out the pros and cons of allowing screen-time? Or just want to brush up on some facts? Then read on for every pro and con when it comes to screen time for kids. Screen-time for children is always up for debate and there are benefits and harmful factors to it, all this information and more right here.
20 Pro: learning about Colors and Shapes
This Mom found that screen-time benefited her child, "It definitely helped my little girl when it came to learning colors and shapes".
Colors and shapes are two of the very first things we learn about as a young child, a lot of the time we learn these via reading books or observing objects but it is possible to use screen time for this purpose.
For some reason, children often gravitate towards the screen, so if they are throwing away the books and ignoring the objects around them perhaps a little bit of screen-time to teach them this simple information is a positive thing.
19 Pro: making it A Reward System
Rewards can be given in many forms such as stickers, sweets, toys etc or even just simple praise and if all this fails, the threat of some screen-time is sure to do the trick. No matter how much we try to keep them away from screens in the generation of tech, screens are everywhere. So, to get around this we can limit the use of said screens and use them as a reward.
"If I want my son to do something I offer him TV time in return. It works every time!" shared a father very happy with his reward system.
18 Pro: using it as mom and baby Chill Time
We all need time to relax, even more so when you are a Mother and sometimes the only way to do that is to stick on a bit of television. Mom of 3 from Scotland says "Screen-time is everything if you need some chill time and I don't see anything wrong with that".
Being a parent is hard work and kids are non-stop so at the end of a hard day where you may have experienced multiple tantrums being able to unwind can be important, an hour of screen-time to keep your sanity can help you recharge.
17 Pro: helping them Prepare For The Future
The future is full of screens and that is a fact. You may think there is a lot of tech around now but who knows what kind of gadgets they might have in the future and you can bet your child will be expected to know how to use them, not just be peers but employers.
"School is full of screens nowadays. Everything can be tracked on the internet and they have games to help their learning. This screen-time is essential to their education," argued one mom.
Learning via screens and learning how to use upgraded screens is now a big part of our world and this screen-time will help them prepare for their future.
16 Pro: finding ways To Cater To Their Needs
Your kids are your number one priority. You want to keep them happy and healthy and to do this you must try and fulfill their every need. This means cooking them healthy meals, keeping a clean environment for them etc. And to get these essential tasks done sometimes you need to distract the kids for a little while; screen-time is perfect for this!
"I have three children and if I could not utilize screen-time then no cooking, cleaning or personal hygiene would ever get done", explained a Mother of three.
Letting your children enjoy a cartoon so you can achieve an important duty that will benefit them can be deemed obligatory.
15 Pro: A great option for Long Journeys
"Rather than endure screaming for 5 straight hours, yeah, I would rather loosen up a bit and let my son have some time on my phone or tablet”, strongly put-forward a Mother of one little boy.
Traveling with a child can be difficult especially if it is a long journey. Whether you are making the trip via car, plane, boat, train or some other mode of transport, a bit of screen-time for your little one is sure to make the time pass quicker and the journey a lot more peaceful. Yes, games are fun and conversation is important but a bit of screen-time mixed in there is okay too.
14 Pro: helps promote Education
The education system is now full of screens and now more than ever, our learning seems to be internet based. Students are getting electronic homework and classes are taught on large scale tech screens, there is no hiding away from them so you might as well help your children embrace them in a healthy way.
An experienced mother voiced her opinion on this matter saying, "I do think education has become too heavily reliant on technology but at the same time there are lots of things my daughter has learned via a screen that I at her age would not have known. I do think screens can be used to educate and that screen-time is good".
13 Pro: encourages Family Time
"Watching a movie together is something we regularly do as a family and I view it as a special time where we all bond" exclaimed yet another mother who I questioned.
Family time is so important and you can choose to do with this time as you please, some families choose using their screen-time to view a film together. Cuddled up on the sofa with eyes glued to the film, reacting together and then when the film is done it then leaves room for discussion. You may not like screen-time but there is no question that film is art and that is something many parents wish to share with their child- the art of film.
12 Pro: Moral Of The Story as learned through movies
We all want to teach our children right from wrong; we want to share with them our values and morals and one way to do this is through a screen.
Like I said, filmmaking is an art and this art form can be very good at portraying messages including ones that we as parents want to instill in our children (for example, always tell the truth). So, we can use this to our advantage when it comes to allowing screen-time.
“Films I watched as a child helped me become the person I am now. I will for sure be allowing my children to watch these also", a new Mom shared with me.
11 Pro: Having something in common with a teen
While so many teenagers are stuck on their laptops and phones there can be a disconnect between parent and child. However, some parents choose to flip this around and use screen time to open the lines of communication once again and get in tune with their teen.
"I never used to have a phone but when I saw my daughter was spending so much time on hers I decided to invest. We have a lot more in common now, get on better and she always knows I am just a phone call or text away", an older mother of a teen expressed to me.
10 Con: It's Addictive
According to a study that was conducted in the University of Michigan (information via Todaysparent.com) your child may be addicted to their devices if "it becomes an all-consuming activity" or “show classic signs of addiction such as an inability to stop using the substance or when that substance begins to interfere with your life and relationships". Just like certain adult bad habits, you can also be addicted to screens and experience withdrawal and behavior change.
One parent I spoke to had been struggling with her child's love of screen-time, "It can be very addictive and sometimes I dread when it's time to turn the screen off as I know my son will freak out".
9 Con: it can lead to some of the worst Tantrums
"I noticed when my daughter would have a lot of screen time it caused her to misbehave and become extra sassy towards me," shared one concerned parent. From what I have gathered many Mothers found that when their children would have long spouts of screen-time, taking that screen away would negatively affect their behavior towards them. Tantrums would start and they would plead for their device back. This may be due to addiction as I mentioned in the last entry.
Limiting screen time is important as children will be less likely to lash out when you set them certain times they can use screens.
8 Con: the World Of Uncensored YouTube
YouTube offers lots of people around the world viewing pleasure, there is lots of different content to please everyone and anyone can upload a video. This can be used positively but once children are introduced to the world of YouTube often it can have a negative effect.
One mother noticed her daughter mimicking YouTube videos, "My daughter would try and watch YouTube videos on the iPad all day, every day if she could so I deleted the app because she was copying the attitude of the kids she was watching".
The lack of safe-guarding YouTube has is also an issue, not only be bad for your children but potentially harmful.
7 Con: Harmful to a child's Eyesight
This is particularly a problem when it comes to smaller screens such as phones or iPads that can be held close to your face; eyesight is a key factor to think about when giving your child screen-time.
"I found that letting my son use an iPad was really straining his eyes, so I took it away and only allowed screen-time through TV where he could sit a good distance away," expressed a concerned mother.
And according to the information on healthline.com, "66% of kids have their own smartphone or tablet. Too much screen time can result in digital eyestrain, which can include burning, itchy, or tired eyes".
6 Con: They can never compare with books
I personally adore books and hope my daughter will too ask she grows older, I agree with so many parents when I say that I would prefer to read my child a book than put her in front of the TV.
Nowadays with everything being made into a film and any book you want is available to you on devices such as a kindle, another screen, many forget that paperback books even exist even though reading has so many benefits. Allowing too much screen-time tends to discourage reading time which is very unfortunate but true.
5 Con: It has been proven to Limit Communication
Some screen-time can open pathways of communication and start discussions in the family but too much can have the opposite effect. There is time to watch a movie together as a family and then there is time to switch all devices off and talk. For example, meal times should be free from all screens.
"Between the kids being in school and both myself and their Dad working sometimes the only chance we get to sit down as a family and chat is when we are having our evening meal. So, you bet the screens will be off and we will be discussing everyone's day", stated a working mom of two.
4 Con: Bullies can follow kids home
The internet is one of man-kinds greatest creations and can help our children but there is also an ugly side to the online world. Cyberbullying, misinformation and inappropriate or illegal content are just some of the things your innocent child can run into when surfing the web.
With children, as young as 13 being on social media nowadays, the threat is real and it is likely that your child could encounter some nasty online 'trolls'. Allowing vast amounts of screen-time may encourage their online behavior.
"I had Facebook from a very young age and I can tell you right now, my son will be having none of that" exclaimed one mom during my survey.
3 Con: Kids are more likely to Mimick Bad Behavior
"My son started to become violent after playing many aggressive games on his computer, needless to say I put an end to this abruptly", a father of two shared with me.
As mentioned a little bit earlier, children can mimic the behavior they see on their screens and if not closely monitored they can take in a lot more than they should. Children who were once gentle can start being violent, polite children start spouting bad language and kind children may become bullies. It is important to not only limit screen time but also to monitor what our kids are watching and ask yourself, is this sending a good message? If not, turn it off.
2 Con: proven to Contribute Towards Obesity
Childhood obesity is a colossal problem in today's society and would you believe that screen-time can contribute to this problem.
"Screen time appears to be an important modifiable cause of childhood obesity and researchers conclude that cutting down on screen time rather than cutting calories seems to reduce weight," according to NHS.
Children are more likely to mindlessly snack while watching TV and the more screen-time they are getting the less exercise they are doing. Many parents I spoke to were aware of this fact and for some, it was the main reason they did not allow screen-time.
1 Con: It Stifles the Imagination
One of the great things about children is their vast amounts of imagination and creativity, us as adults could benefit from learning from our children in this way. So, what if I told you that allowing screen-time could stifle this imagination and cause your child to lack a creative drive?
One Mother's opinion really made me think, "My daughter loves to draw and I love to see her imagination coming out on paper but if I was to offer her my phone to watch videos she would pick that every-time. By limiting the screen-time I am letting her mind grow instead of numbing it".
References: Facebook survey, findinghappyinhealthy.com, todaysparent.com, healthline.com, and NHS.co.uk.