The Great Screen Time Decision –
January 10, 2012
Someone has told me that she is disappointed in my article in the current
issue of Life Learning Magazine about kids and electronic media. (It’s not online.) She
didn’t like the fact that I didn’t tell readers whether they should allow
unlimited computer access, or none, or police it.
Life Learning Magazine is not about setting rules for how
to live with kids. It is a forum for sharing ideas, questions, doubts, opinions,
experiences, and decision-making processes about non-coercive, active,
interest-led learning from life. It is also a place to give and receive support
for a very non-traditional way of living with children. But, in the end, each
family translates those ideas into their life in slightly different ways. And
that is as it should be.
True to that, the article suggests that readers make their
own decisions regarding screen time (or video game use), based on their family’s
needs, lifestyle, etc. Don’t listen to other people’s so-called expert advice.
Trust your own children’s needs and wants, and they will guide you. For many of
us, technology is one area where we’re prone to react based on our own
preferences, rather than on our children’s.
What do I think? I think that the parental role includes
guidance relative to age and developmental level but that kids can self-regulate
about most things that their parents worry about.
What do I think? I think computers are great. (I use one
for about ten hours a day, but don’t play video games.) If PCs had been
available when our children were young, I’m sure they would have had unlimited
access to them in the same way they used the publishing tools that were in our
home at the time.
What do I think? I think that if we allow our kids to learn
based on their needs and interests, we should try to provide them with the tools
to do that (whatever they may be).
What do I think? I think that if you choose to have a
computer in your home, and you want to live in a non-coercive way with your
children, everyone should be able to use the computer to the degree they need or
want to. Otherwise, the words “trust,” “respect,” and “dignity” are hollow.
But that’s just what I think. I trust you to make up your
own mind! (And don’t forget that life learning is a journey; we are allowed to
change our minds.)