It’s hard to go a day without encountering another article about the dangers of children and screen time. According to a recent survey, it’s now become the number one worry for parents, topping bullying and drug and alcohol use.
And with good reason. Studies have shown that heavy use of screens and social media by teens can increase the risk of depression and suicide, and that less screen time generally equates to more happiness.
But it’s not only about what screen time does to children, it’s also about the effects of what they’re missing when they’re on screen. It’s about what’s not happening as well as what’s happening. This was illustrated in a study from the University of Michigan that found that when parents are interacting with their children, even a low frequency of interruptions from technology is associated with behavioral problems. “We know that parents’ responsiveness to their kids changes when they are using mobile technology,” said lead author Jenny Radesky, “and that their device use may be associated with less-than-ideal interactions with their children.”
That’s the real FOMO — what our children are missing out on when they’re on screens: playing, interacting, being outside, experiencing that magical process of boredom transforming into creativity. Instead of FOMO, how about JENGA — the Joy of Engaging (and who doesn’t love Jenga)?
I thought of this when I saw this amazing video of a boy who, instead of playing a video arcade game, decided to make his own out of duct tape, cardboard, and a lot of perseverance and imagination.
In fact, I loved this video so much that I want to create a new section of videos featuring all the things children are doing and making and building when they’re not on screens. What are your children doing that doesn’t involve screens and phones? What other videos have you seen and loved? Send in your own videos or send in your favorites. We know we want our children to spend less time on screens, but instead of the negative framing of more scary articles, let’s have fun by creating a place where we can celebrate the creativity, imagination, inspiration and resourcefulness of children. I can’t wait to see your responses.
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