Open Thread: How much screen time is too much for your kids?

Television, games and apps shouldn't replace non-digital activities, but how do you strike the right balance?

Writing about children's use of technology can be surprisingly controversial, judging by some of the comments on yesterday's feature on apps that kids might enjoy using while travelling.

"Tomorrow's shelf-stackers will be screen pokers. Give them a pencil instead."

"If you don't want to 'deal' with kids, don't make them. More Apps to pacify (passive? Aye) them. This article is nauseating."

"This is grotesque and is symptomatic of everything wrong with modern life."

"What a stupid article highlighting more useless drivel to hinder their childs [sic] development."

"Prefer to keep my kids off stupid apps, thank you."

Similar sentiments regularly appear as comments on related articles on this site and elsewhere, seemingly born of the belief that if children are using tablets and apps, they won't be reading books, riding bikes, drawing with pencils and engaging with the real world.

It's a strange, straw-man argument that underestimates a.) many parents' desire to ensure their children still do all those things too, and b.) their ability to manage their children's screen-time accordingly.

That's a much more positive discussion worth getting into though: if you're a parent, how do you manage screen-time for your children?

Do you set certain time limits per day, and if so, how much? Do you treat all screens the same, or separate out TV time from apps, games and/or internet use? How much do you participate in what your children do digitally, versus leaving them to get on with it?

How do you explain to your children when it's time to turn the screens off, and how do they react? And what kind of rules do you place on what they do on those screens: from watching ad-supported TV channels to what kind of apps you're happy for them to use?

And, if you don't let your children use apps, play games and/or watch TV, what's your thinking behind that, and what effects have you seen this have on your kids?

I'm hoping this will spark a polite exchange of opinions and advice: less "screens are dreadful and any parent who disagrees with me is a lazy moron", and more constructive advice and experiences.

Well, I'm an optimist... The comments thread is open for your thoughts.

The guardian.com


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