In Defense of Screen Time

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In the digital world we live in today, screen time is pretty unavoidable for anyone. Besides TV and movies, we have tablets, iPads, smartphones, video games, computers, and more among our electronic options. We know that extended screen time can have a negative effect, especially on kids. We hear about various studies documenting that screen time can affect a child’s attention span or problem-solving abilities, just to give one example. It can really freak out new parents that are trying to do their best not to damage their child!

Let me just say that as a parent, I’m supportive of using screen time sparingly. I don’t think it’s helpful or appropriate for kids of any age to be glued to a TV screen or tablet or phone for hours on end. I have experienced that this definitely affects kids in one way or another the majority of the time.

However, as a parent who works full-time and has lots of things to get done on any given day, let me also say that there are times I really, really need my son to hang out with my phone for a little bit! I do limit the time spent and monitor what apps he’s using or which YouTube videos he watches (sidebar: how many times in a row can a parent hear “the finger song” without going insane? That song alone is reason enough to enforce limits! And I also want to know what person sits and creates these videos, because there are millions of them? Should I thank them or beg them to stop?) But, it is nice for him to be able to veg out for a brief time and for me to finish something for work or mop the kitchen floor without him running in, slipping, and/or tracking tiny footprints all over it.

I know that this isn’t the best thing, but it’s also not the worst. And it’s also just not realistic anymore to not allow any screen time. It’s a huge part of our world…he has had my phone in his face since birth taking 6,453 photos of him over the last three years. Most adults overuse our phones and I find that I need to enforce limits for myself as well. But it’s also relaxing to unwind and do something mindless like scroll through Pinterest at the end of a long day. My son has ample amounts of structured time, play, and interactions with several other kids and adults during the majority of every day. I have to think that he appreciates being able to unwind as well. These thoughts help temper my guilt when he’s re-watching a video of “the finger song” for the twentieth time. And I think, like most things, a little screen time in moderation is not going to be too harmful.

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Andrea Connell is social worker, wife, and mom to a smart, active, and sweet toddler, Brady. Originally from Lexington, OH (not Kentucky as commonly thought!), she moved to Columbus in 2001 to attend college at The Ohio State University, and it has been home ever since. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work, and has worked with children in some capacity for over ten years, including as a therapist, case manager, and early intervention service coordinator. She now works full-time for a large social service agency, but a flexible schedule allows her to manage work, motherhood, and domestic duties and keep (somewhat) sane. She met her husband, Brian, through mutual friends about six years ago and they have been married since 2013. Andrea loves living in Columbus and enjoys exploring all the fun places, events, and festivals that the city offers. Most weekends, you can find her and her family at the Columbus Zoo or any park that is conducive to expending toddler energy. She loves spending time with her friends and extended family, which includes ten nieces and nephews! Other interests include reading (when she can stay awake long enough to do so), occasional date nights with her husband, texting instead of talking on the phone, local coffee shops, live music, and attempting crafty projects that may or may not get finished.