People come to me with all sorts of questions about and around computers; especially when their kids are involved. One of the questions that always pop up sooner or later is the link between (too much) screen time and children’s emotional well being. Many studies showed that prolonged screen time has a negative impact on the teenager’s emotional well being.
And true enough. The most recent study tells us that there is, indeed, a negative influence on your child’s emotional balance. The sad part of that is that it’s as profoundly negative as giving your children a potatoe.
New Oxford University tested 350.000 teenagers and came to the conclusion that ‘in general’ screens don’t depress children or make them more suicidal or self-centered. As the scientists behind this study said: eating a potatoe (generally not seen as a dangerous time passing in relation to a teenager’s psychological well being) is as ‘dangerous’ as looking at a screen and consuming games, movies (on Netflix, Youtube or anything else) or doing other stuff.
No issues at all?
You always have to take a study like this with a grain of salt. Yes: the teenager-population in general won’t have a big negative impact when their screen time takes up the largest part of their day, but that doesn’t mean that this still count for the individual teenager. You know your kids best. On weekdays one to two hours are fine. During the weekends it’s okay to play around for more than two hours a day. Still, it’s equally important that they do other stuff as well. It really all depends on their background. Screen time, in general again, only impacts them for 0,4%. Marijuana has a negative impact of 2,7% while bullying (which also happens online) scored 4,3%. Combine these (e.g. online bullying with screen time) and the negative impact on the teenager’s well being can be 4,7%.
It’s okay for teenagers to sit behind their screens. It’s not okay to do that excessively, but the best way is to work together with your children to work out a compromise. And if they are playing games, then why don’t you join them? I know: too much work and not enough time – or rather, you’re not really that interested into games. Well, I can tell you there is pleasure in playing games with your children, much in the same way as our parents played games with us. It’s not because they are digital, that we no longer have the time.
Think about that.