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Healthy and Unhealthy Uses of Screen Time

Posted by on Jun. 17, 2017 at 4:00 PM
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I'm tired of seeing technology demonized in too many homeschooling circles.  I see so many blog posts about how to reduce"screen-free" time and so much less about healthy use of tech.

If you think of the activities that fill our life as food, screen-time is only a part of what we consume.  And not all types of screen time are the same. Too many people treat all tech like "sugar"...something that's pleasurable and hard to avoid completely, but really should be avoided as much as possible if you want a healty life.

And there are some parts of tech which are like sugar:  there are many video games and TV shows and movies and such that are modern forms of twaddle.

But there are also aspects of screentime which are more like carrots: good things that can add to a healthy life. I can think of so many healthy ways my kids use "screens": they research topics they are interested in, they keep in touch with friends and family far away, they learn about politics and science and history, they create things in art programs and minecraft, they make videos about things they care about to share with others. And some movies and TV shows and even quality video games can be thought provoking.

Of course, just like I wouldn't want my children's  whole diet to consist of carrots, I don't want ALL their activites to involve screens.   I encourage and sometimes insist they participate in a good amount of off-screen activities too.  But at this stage in our lives I see no reason to try to severely limit screentime (though I do limit some types of screentime, like video games and movie watching). Limiting all screentime would be like limiting both sugar AND carrot consumption. It doesn't make sense.

(SIDE NOTE: I do agree with limiting screentime in very young children. The food metaphor persists...carrots are great but a choking hazard to young children. Computers are great but they take little kids away from hands on stuff they need to be doing, so limiting makes sense when they're young).

by on Jun. 17, 2017 at 4:00 PM
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by Group Admin on Jun. 17, 2017 at 7:50 PM
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Your kids are not the norm. When my son is at a screen most of his time is spent on useless, pointless games,  most of which I'd rather he not play anyway. He'll be at the screen for a long time, then hours later come back and say "can you look up such-and-such?" and I'll say, "Why didn't you do that when you were on earlier?" He'll usually reply with something like, "Oh well, I didn't think of it". Once in a great while he'll use it to do something photoshop-like, or want to try some coding, but it's a rarity. Also, when he's at home, that's ALLLL he wants to do and would be on the TV or computer all the time if I let him. I give him suggestions of other things to do and he always has a reason he can't or doesn't want to.

He's 13 and I signed him up for a daytime summer camp for two weeks (without asking him) just so he'd be out of the house DOING something, rather than sitting around playing (or whining about wanting to play) video games.

I think part of the problem IS the fact that when he was young - up till about 4yo - he had TONS of screen time that very well might NOT have been limited due to his BM (we've been custodial since he was about 4 1/2, and BM's been totally out of the picture since about 5 1/2). DH isn't much help in that department either, so it's kind of just me telling DS to find something productive to do.

by Kim on Jun. 17, 2017 at 11:18 PM
We only do screen time on iPads during homeschooling (educational, and me picking out the items such as YouTube videos). I also allow them in the ER and on airplanes.

I don't think most kids use them efficiently or educationally, I don't think they are beneficial, and I think parents who let their kids use them as much as they want and without parents are crazy, especially if the kids are under the age of 13.
by Member on Jun. 18, 2017 at 7:11 AM

Our only limitations to screen time are: all chores must be completed and all schoolwork must be completed.. we also have 2 more rules for the 8 year old: she has to read for 20 minutes outside of school and practice her clarinet... then, they have unlimited time on their ipods, Nooks, or if available the desktop used for school. They have serious limitations on their ipods and Nooks as that is what their father does for a living- network security. Their Netflix is locked down, no access to youtube and my youngest is not allowed the internet.. my oldest has internet, but she never uses it. They are also not allowed to have any social media at all. 

We don't limit their time spent on there and it's never been an issue. 


" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 

by Group Admin on Jun. 19, 2017 at 12:02 PM
I limit. I know that it may work for some kids not to. But for my kids it definitely does not. They need to have the structure of being taught to not be on electronics all the time.

We use television for educational purposes and they get only about an hour maybe two a day of the non educational stuff. Other than that they have chores, school work and playing outside to keep them busy. They are not allowed just on screens whenever.
by New Member on Jun. 22, 2017 at 7:08 PM

I limit my kids as much as I can. During the school year it's no more than an hour of screen time, unless they are working on coding or something that requires the screen. During the summer I let them be on for longer, but I have to kick them off, or else they'd be on all day. 

by Gold Member on Jun. 23, 2017 at 5:04 PM
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I have a child who was used to the screen being her babysitter before we got custody and adopted her.  She used to cry when I would send them outside to play instead of watch tv. We have had to enact very strict guidelines because of her.  We prefer no more than a total of 7 hours a week.  They can use that as they like but ALL schoolwork must be complete, all chores must be done, and they need to have had at least 60 mins of play before we allow the tv.  They are usually so busy that they get about 1-2 hours a week.  We count screentime as anything on the tablet, tv, or handheld games (tetris, yahtzee, etc).  I have one child who is addicted to her tetris game, but that is another battle.

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