Will Screen Advice Ever Be Clear?

 Will Screen Advice Ever Be Clear?

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                So screens are everywhere in our lives, but our kids are not supposed to be on them. Until a certain age, that is. Or unless they are using very specific apps. But not before bed. Unless it’s at least a couple of hours before bed. But not at family dinner. Even though some adult might take a call or check an email or ask Siri for a random fact while at the table. Confused by the crazy complicated and ever-changing screen recommendations? Me too…

                Here, though, sits our reality: technology is evolving faster than studies can evaluate it. Today’s most cutting edge research is based on data collected at least two years ago and often times much further into the past. The game your kid covets probably wasn’t even available when the studies were being done. The app you can’t live without? Chances are that wasn’t around either, and if it was the iteration looked and behaved vastly different. That’s why we have no choice but to make the best of the info we’ve got. Some excellent recent summaries to catch you up on the newest parenting screen recommendations include this one from Axios. Of course, there will always be new articles that fan the flames of worry, like this one that looks at the connection between screen time and attentional issues, an article that can be hard to read unless you are a scientist. Which is why we are lucky to have accessible resources like Common Sense Media to translate evolving data for parents – their screen time recs update with the science.

                My bottom line advice is this: read what you can, educate yourself for sure. But at the end of the day, parenting is an inexact social science with lots of room for error and little for judgment. Take the information coming your way, sort it based upon the reliability of the source, and use it to inform your parenting choices. If the newest research runs counter to something that’s happening in your house but it comes from a place that is highly trustworthy, then change course. Just because you made one set of screen rules doesn’t mean you cannot pivot. That said, be proactive instead of reactive: think about the reasons why you put certain rules in place and try not to freak out with every article you read.