Last Updated on 22 February 2024
The tagline of The Art of Screen Time by Anya Kamenetz says “How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media & Real Life”, but there's not much insights about how you can actually do this. Instead, the bulk of the discussion is about how schools were using EdTech, and by that extension, screen time – in schools. It's a digression and should probably be the topic of another book.
Certain parts of the book are terribly hard to read (i.e. boring) because they are like a long blog post filled with research statistics and reporting, often accompanied by the author's own “unscientific survey” and anecdotes.
This particular quote by Dan Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, probably underlined the author's mindset.
Central to Romer's observation is that experiments that show correlations between screens and negative effects receive more attention than experiments that show nothing conclusive, and those that show benefits are less likely to be conceived or conducted in the first place.
It is with this belief that the author tends to diss research that is in favour of the former.
One thing to note: research shows that kids tend to follow parents' lead when it comes to screen time habits. So if you want your kids to develop a healthy diet of screen time, you probably have to model that behaviour first.
Take this simple, 3-part survey to let us know the challenge you face setting the appropriate screen time usage for your kids.
Regardless of the author's biases, limiting screen time as an interventionist philosophy does have its benefits. In Chapter 3 (“Emerging Evidence”), Dr. David Hill of the American Academy of Pediatrics was quoted as saying: “There was a time when eliminating smoking indoors, removing lead from gasoline and paint, and restraining children in cars were all seen as unrealistic recommendations that no one would ever follow. And yet each of these practices has been widely adopted with profoundly positive effects on child health.”
TL;DR: Flip to chapter 10 if you don't have the patience to plough through all the random stuff that's thrown at you. In fact, there's one sentence right in this chapter that sums up what you need to know: “Enjoy screens; not too much; mostly together.”
Proud father of two lovely kids, who at times pushed me to seriously consider editing out the word “lovely” from this sentence. (I am not alone in this.)