My children are in a very low-tech school. There are no televisions, computers or tablets in the classroom, and mobile phones are prohibited during the school day. Families are encouraged to keep their children screen-free in the early years (up to age six) and for grades one through seven, limited screen time on weekends only is recommended. Our family has followed these guidelines since our children started school and we have rarely deviated from them.
Now that my daughter is 13 and in high school, the struggle to limit screen time and exposure to social media is real. Most of my daughter’s classmates have Instagram accounts, and many of them smuggle phones into the classroom, despite the “no technology” rule. She says that without her own account, she often feels disconnected from her classmates because she didn’t see the latest Instagram post everyone is talking about. Are we impeding her ability to socialize and communicate with her friends? Perhaps this is simply the way that Generation Z (Post-Millennial) communicates, as we did as teenagers when we pulled our long phone cords across the hall to our bedrooms to chat with friends all night. This leaves me questioning my decisions and hoping that my husband and I are making the right decisions for our daughter when it comes to limiting exposure to social media and screens. And I also wonder why I feel like I’m one of the few parents still holding out.
However, after recently watching the documentary Screeners: growing in the digital ageI felt better about our decisions when I saw studies on the effects of excessive screen time and how it can harm the physical development of the young brain. Studies show a connection between too much screen time and a reduced attention span, as well as an adverse impact on learning. screeners Filmmaker and mother Dr. Delaney Ruston documents the real pain her daughter feels when her mobile phone is taken away and reminds parents that teens cannot self-regulate when it comes to screen time and social media . Parents and caregivers should be the ones to set the limits and consider writing a contract to regulate screen use if they decide to allow it. They should also set an example for children by being good role models. And that means having your own guidelines for time spent on devices.
Another uplifting moment for me came at the end of the film, when a group of teenagers talk about how happy they are that their parents set limits and rules around their screen time, saying that they would probably be failing in school if they did. they didn’t. have clear boundaries. How refreshing. I think the most important thing to remember as a parent navigating the ever-changing frontiers of technology and social media is that you are still the shaper of your children’s future. If you put expectations on what food they eat, what grades they get, and how much sleep they need, why wouldn’t you do the same with media and technology? Food for thought. Who’s got my back?