Limiting screen time is ideal but also difficult for most parents
All parents know the dangers of giving our kids access to the Internet or allowing them hours of screen time. But here’s the thing, sometimes we also need a damn break. Technology execs recently weighed in on their thoughts and rules around electronics for their kids, which is full of helpful tips and also has us wondering why they created them in the first place.
“Our real priority is getting them out of the house and experiencing the world,” Nirav Tolia, the co-founder and chief executive of neighborhood-based social networking app Nextdoor told NBC News. “We have a no-phone policy when we’re with our children. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our phones with us — but we’re not watching YouTube out of the corner of our eyes.”
We’ve all read research that finds smartphones may be making kids more depressed, social media may cause increased anxiety in our kids, and there may be a link between depression and online gaming — and the numbers don’t lie. Pew Research reports that 45 percent of teens say they’re online “nearly constantly” and for kids under age nine, mobile device use his tripled in recent years to an average of 48 minutes per day. That said, a lot of parents still struggle to set limits on something we’re pretty much always surrounded by.
So what are these tech execs saying are the rules our kids should abide by (now that they’ve made millions creating the exact technology our kids are most addicted to):
“One hour a day of device time (once dinner and homework are finished)” Tolia said as we scream into the abyss above the beguiled laughs of parents everywhere.
“An hour of TV on Saturday mornings, watched together as siblings,” Tolia continued. Listen, dude, I agree but I just read this to my 14, 12, and six-year-old kids and they all, in unison, flipped me off. So, yeah no.
But the father of three insists he’s only ever on his phone in front of his kids when they’re together is “to see when a store or restaurant opens, or to order takeout.”
Other advice includes only allowing apps after children have read a book, unlimited screen time as along as their kids are watching something educational (“duh Mom, Fortnite is teaching me all about teamwork and also killing my enemies just in case”), and that apps can be used with the caveat that “thoughtful conversations must exist before they are allowed,” says Hadi Parvoti, founder and CEO of education nonprofit Code.org.
Listen, of course most well-intended parents do this with their kids but seriously, kids are going to nod and agree and then eventually have to navigate this online world on their own. Is it ok? No, absolutely not. But, it’s the world we live in.
Still, other execs have a “no social media anytime” policy. “We all know the distraction factor that technology brings,” Danielle Levitas SVP of App Annie told NBC. “I don’t care what age you are. It’s so easy to just be like, ‘I’m just going to look over here for a little bit,’ and I think to assume children are going to have even more self-control is completely unfair and unrealistic.”
In similar approach Tom Cortese, Co-founder of Pelaton says definitely no screen time before the age of two. I don’t mean to point out the obvious here Tom, but while we’re on our Pelaton to get five goddamn minutes of peace and exercise, who’s entertaining our kids?
These recommendations are all well and good, but modern parents are just trying to do their best given the importance of (and reliance on) devices for our kids. They aren’t necessary, obviously, but with the myriad school-issued apps, social media connections, and (let’s be honest) small amount of peace and quiet, it’s a difficult balance to create. We’re all just doing our best, fancy tech execs included.