As a teenager, I remember getting my first cell phone when I was in middle school. Now, as a therapist, it’s normal to have families with kids in elementary school who are well-versed in technology and use a tablet better than I can.
Technology has become a normal part of everyday life for kids, and that makes many parents uneasy. Parents are often worried about the effect screen time has on kids, and how to effectively manage giving their kids screens without feeling guilty about it. To help parents feel empowered in giving their kids screen time, I’m breaking down the research behind using screen time.
Here’s what we do know about how screen time affects kids (American Psychological Association, 2020):
TV Can Reinforce Key Emotional Skills
Educational television shows, such as Daniel the Tiger and Sesame Street, have been shown to increase emotion recognition and empathy in children. On-demand videos, such as the ones offered by Supernow, are another healthy viewing option designed to build social-emotional skills in kids.
The Impact on Mental Health Is Complicated
There has been conflicting evidence on how screen time affects mental health. Overall, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that screen time has a negative impact on kids’ mental health and in many cases there are positive correlations.
Screens Affect Different Ages Differently
For really young kids, younger than 2, screen time often isn’t helpful in teaching kids new skills or ideas. For older children, the impact can be beneficial on learning and skill development. Supernow hosts content and programming for older kids ages 4-10.
Okay, so if screen time isn’t all bad, what should parents do?
Watch Media with Your Kids
Research has consistently shown that watching television and other media can protect kids from some of the potential downsides of screen time.
Take a Mindful Approach to Screens
Banning screens completely is likely to backfire. Being mindful of how kids are using their time on screens and outside of screens is a more helpful approach.
Encourage Screens for Social Activities
Interactive video games and social experiences like Supernow are great examples of positive Screen Time that actually reinforces social skills. Supernow provides a live, interactive social outlet for kids that teaches character-building lessons through fun counselor-led adventures. Plus, they have at-home activities to continue the fun off-screen. Learn more here.