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Kids Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?

Science Under the Microscope

Kids Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?As a parent and a techie, I have always struggled with how much time is too much for my children to spend in front of a screen.

My son enjoys playing video games, surfing child-friendly websites, and watching television shows. This makes “screen time” a perfect reward for good behavior, since nothing motivates him more.

Media 24/7 

But, a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that American children spend nearly every hour of the day (that isn’t spent at school or sleeping) consuming entertainment media. This fact has consequences for both the health of our children and the way in which we seek to educate them.

Naturally, some will take this as a call to action to save our children from the onslaught of mass media on their attention, and rightly so. But, we must also see this change as a clarion call to those who seek to educate them.

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Actively Interacting vs. Passively Watching

As Jeff Utecht pointed out in a recent post on his blog, The Thinking Stick, perhaps we need better information about how much time students spend passively observing media and how much of their time is actually spent engaging with interactive forms. The former is sure to have negative effects on the development of our country’s youth, but the latter may be a sign of success. If students are learning in active ways beyond the school day, then technology may finally be achieving the promised dream of enhancing instruction and allowing more student-centered learning.


In the end, however, we teachers need to recognize the role of media consumption in the lives of our children. We can’t change their habits at home (although we can try), but perhaps we can use those habits to improve the learning experiences that take place at school. If we integrate technology better into our lessons, maybe students won’t crave it so much at home.


And, maybe I should be rewarding my son with “soccer time” rather than screen time.

What is your attitute toward kids and screen time - both at school and at home? Share in the comments section!