A year ago today was a lifetime ago. We were living in normal times. We were hearing about COVID-19, but it hadn’t affected us yet. There were a handful of known cases. I was reading about screen time and how it was affecting our kids. Depression and anxiety were being linked to social media.
Fast forward to today. We’ve been sheltering in place for 11 and a half months. Does anyone care about screen time and our kids? Depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Our kids don’t see their friends, they have to use their screens to connect. Parents working from home probably welcome more screen time so they can work.
Here’s what I wrote a year ago, before knowing what our daily lives would be like:
I am so thankful my kids were born in the late 90s and not today. Do you know why? Because we didn’t have to worry so much about screen time. We had one of those big box TVs and a VCR in the back bedroom. My biggest worry wasn’t how much time they were looking at screens, but what my son was going to “feed” it — a small toy or a peanut butter sandwich? Yes. He did that.
We allowed our kids to use the computer and they had DVDs that had educational activities that fascinated them. And they watched movies on the DVDs, too. But we didn’t have the internet back then. I didn’t have anywhere, like Facebook or Instagram, to post hundreds of pictures of them until much later! I’m sure they are thankful they were born in the 1990s for that very reason, too!
An article called Challenges of parenting “Generation A” from CBS affiliate KWCH12 in Wichita, Kansas, explains some of the fears parents have today and offer a few tips on how to deal with the challenges:
It’s a new term to describe children who were born after 2010. They are the children of millennials. And they live in a world where smartphones and the internet have always existed.
Experts say that’s important because all the technology brings challenges for parents, including a risk of addiction.
Kids born after 2010 have phones in their faces almost immediately after they’re born. Their parents are taking pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook.
Experts warn, if you aren’t careful, that could grow into a technology addiction that makes it difficult for kids to interact with other kids.
“There is a certain type of addictive piece to playing a game, getting rewards, passing certain levels, and it’s just more fun than real life,” said Kalee Beal, who works with kids in the autism community at Heartspring.
She says now, even kids who don’t have autism are facing some of the same developmental challenges because of the technology in front of them.
I watched my toddler son become mesmerized whenever that giant purple dinosaur Barney would appear on TV. That was the only thing he seemed to be obsessed with on the screen. We also watched a ton of VCRs I’d check out from the library for free. I remember my Aunt Linda was so surprised during one of her visits. My son asked if she wanted to watch a movie with him. She was sure it would be a Disney cartoon. She was pleasantly surprised when he turned on “Meet Me in St. Louis.” After years of watching every musical the library had, my son asked me, “Mom, do they make any movies where they aren’t singing and dancing all the time?”
Here are some tips from the article about Generation A:
Beal offered some tips for parents.
First, she says technology is a great positive behavior enforcer, as long as you set limits. And, when time is up, take the device away.
She says games requiring problem-solving and strategy can be good for development, but parents should download the game and play it themselves before handing the tablet over to their children.
Parents should know if kids can chat with others through the game, which could expose them to danger.
Beal says kids are very tech savvy, and if you set up parental controls, they may find a way to disable or work around them.
She recommends looking through devices often to make sure your child didn’t tamper with safety settings.
What do you recommend to parents of Generation A to limit screen time? Do you think too much screen time is a concern or have you relaxed your standards?