Screen time has been a hot topic among parents for the past few years. As devices like smartphones and tablets have become more mainstream, parents and doctors are trying to figure out the best way to approach it. A new article by Olivia Solon on Mosaic takes a new look at screen time from multiple perspectives. It’s called “Smartphones won’t make your kids dumb. We think.”

Like most other articles regarding screen time, this article doesn’t end with any definitive answers. Instead, it offers up information from researchers, doctors, and parents, and gives you the chance to make your own conclusions. Here are some highlights from the story:

Latest Research

Seattle’s Center for Integrative Brain Research is currently studying the results of massive media exposure in mice. The baby animals are shown things like Cartoon Network and flashing lights, and are bombarded with sounds. The results thus far have shown a higher rate of hyperactivity in adult mice that were exposed to the media as babies.

Another study is finding that excessive use of screens could possibly be the link to rising rates of short-sightedness in children.

Yet another study is testing how easily kids are able to focus and weed out distractions as various images appear on the screen. The results of this study are finding that this type of thinking leads to self-control, which is a significant skill necessary in adult life.

Educational Apps

There are slews of so-called educational apps available on the market for kids of any age. However most will add in one learning element and slap on the educational label when they have no proof to back it up. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center found that only 10% of all apps labeled as educational actually had some stated or backed-up educational science.

Screen Time and Parents

Everyone knows parents are role models for their kids, even if they don’t want to be. Studies are showing that parents who are constantly on their own devices can be more distracted from playing with their kids and can have fewer conversations and a shorter temper when kids are trying to get their attention.

Where Screen Time Can Do the Most Good

Some studies are starting to see data that screen time among kids who are part of disadvantaged families are actually gaining some benefit. These kids are already several months behind their peers as far as language development, and digital devices may help close that gap.

Another way screen time can inherently be good is that it can give parents a little bit of “me time,” which is very necessary for their physical and emotional health, and that then trickles down to their kids.

It’s not likely that any real solid data will emerge any time soon, but the best advice is one that psychologist Dr. Randy Kulman uses in his studies. Everything in moderation.



This article was written by

Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she's a mom, she's passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.