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    • Our house is like Grand Central for kids aged 4-10. We have three of them this week.

      Some of their parents and my wife are very concerned about screen time. A few think it's key to their future. We have 6 iPads, a room full of toys, a trampoline, a huge swing set, but guess what they like best?

      Suggestions on best apps for the iPads?

    • I'm very interested in this subject. We want to start having kids in the next year or two and I've struggled to find consistent strategies on this subject. It seems to be a crucial part of parenting these days.

    • As a former teacher, I can say unequivocally that those children whose screen time was limited did better in class...and continue to do best in life (as I keep up with some of them). Their parents only used some screen time as a reward (at home), and some parents allowed absolutely no television during the school week - even gifted children, who are often harder to keep "entertained." They were only allowed to choose 1-2 hours worth of TV over weekends. Computer time was also limited, and in elementary school they did not yet own cell phones. These children were more curious and wanted to learn. Their homework was not only done - but they cared about how they did on it. Limiting screen time seemed to increase their interest in the world around them, science, the outdoors, etc.At the other end of the spectrum - those children who had unlimited screen time seemed to do little at home but play computer games, tended toward apathy in their school course work, and were often known to be sneaking the game playing during the middle of the night. They had little to no interest in the outdoors. There has to be a happy medium in there, and yet - there is a lot of recent research now to back up my own observations.

    • In this scenario is there a "good" vs. "bad" screen time? What's the HDL of screentime.

      For example as a kid I spent a lot of time playing computer / video games that we're skill based and often were really about managing resources (WoW, StarCraft, SimCity, Poker etc.) I think they served me well. Watching Disney channel and sitcoms for 90 minutes, maybe not so much.

      When I was in 4th grade my favorite game was number munchers (dating myself now..). Would this be considered part of the screen time allowance?

      Being outside should be a requirement. My parents would pay to have a dump truck to come and leave a pile of dirt for us in the summer. We would spend hours outside with our toy trucks and shovels building things. Igloos, snowmen and sledding in the winter.

    • As a teacher I absolutely agree with your statements. Less is more. Most kids are spending far too much time on computers in general. I'd extend this to our education systems as well. I think that if the money currently being spent on technology in the schools was instead spent on making sure the students could all read, write and critically evaluate information, we would all be better off.

    • @cvdavis, I agree that too much time is spent on computer (and TV etc) but isn't the money being spent on technology in schools for the purpose of educating kids to read, write and do math?

      The current system we have in schools is broken and has been for a long time, teaching 30 kids at the same time with one teacher doesn't make sense IMO. Education should be tailored to each individual and in the age of AI shouldn't we be making huge advances in using technology in education? Of course, socialization, working in teams should not be at the expense of these advances either.

      1st grade - 12th grade failed me. It wasn't until I was in business school that I felt like I finally had a curriculum that was intended for me (entrepreneurship). I feel lucky I even was exposed to it, i'm sure many people never get exposed to the right curriculum or perhaps feel less intelligent then their peers when in actuality they were being told to learn and study in a way that their brain just isn't designed to process.

    • I don't know if there is an exact answer, but as a first time father of a 16 month old we've had a few experiences that has influenced what we allow.

      In the earlier days, TV was something we occasionally used for sensory stimulation. Myles seemed to enjoy seeing the motion of various shapes and characters while listening to nursery rhymes. By "enjoy" I mean he would be attentive, crack an occasional smile, and just seem generally satisfied. If a video would stop, it wouldn't be a big deal as he would avert his attention elsewhere.

      As he started to develop very basic communication skills, we introduced him to something more complex: Sesame Street. I really like that show because of the diversity of subjects they cover. Watching the show with him was added to our play time routine and didn't seem to be an issue, but that quickly changed.

      It's amazing how fast children develop. Suddenly Myles started to remember the characters, would clap along to the songs, and eventually associate the TV and even the TV remote with watching Elmo and friends. He really enjoyed it with a much deeper connection. When combined with the complexities of the toddler phase of development, certain aspects of TV started to become a problem.

      A 13 month old toddler doesn't understand "the why", so if an episode of Sesame Street would end and it was time to turn off the TV for bath time, we had a very sad boy on our hands. If he excitingly found the TV remote but had his request denied, sad Myles would be in full effect. It became a source of tension often enough for us to hide the TV remote and completely stop asking him if he wanted to watch Elmo.

      Today, we only watch one or two episodes of Sesame Street on the weekends. We are working parents, so our limited weeknight time with him is strictly for eating dinner, bath time, play time, and reading. We've found that having TV be out of sight and out of mind has made everybody much happier and makes it extra special when we do watch some Elmo. I won't lie, there are times we have to break the rules and there are times we need to allow a bit of Sesame Street while at a restaurant, but in general we are pretty good about limiting this.

      I can only imagine that this will get more difficult over time. Especially when he can start playing video games, since I want to be player-two. 😀

    • Brian playing video games isn't that far away. My three year old can play any of the lego games, and even switch to the correct characters and solve what ever puzzles are on the board. My wife doesn't often partake in video game time and when she does she's always amazed at exactly how much he can do on his own without either of his brothers help.

      He's been playing tablets and PlayStation 4 for I'd say at least the last 6 to 8 months, and partaking in the games much longer than that.

      My oldest picked up a good amount of Spanish from shows like Diego and Dora. Same can be said about certain basic math skills.

      There always is a "is there too much screen time" debate between my wife and I. When we step back and look at everything they've picked up from different show/games, you could easily make an argument for more screen time.

      With that being said we ensure there are times when they can't use any screens and have to play with the copious amount of action figures and toys they have around the house. The three year old will throw a small tantrum the second you take the controller and turn off the game but it quickly passes. If you give him enough lead time often he will shut it off on his own.

      I guess just like anything else it really depends on how you use it and what content they are viewing/playing.

      Don't get me wrong we do plenty of reading, working through math in our head, practicing our writing, learning about nature, etc. But there is certainly a lot that could be learned from screen time.

      Hopefully you'll be player 2 in no time!

    • Your question is: isn't the money being spent on technology in schools for the purpose of educating kids to read, write and do math?

      My answer is no. The money is being spent so they can say "Our school is on the leading edge of educational development and our technology proves it." In actuality the technology is poorly understood and poorly utilized. In my mind it doesn't even belong there in that capacity. If the technology is well understood then it still has limited efficacy on learning and certainly the extra cost doesn't justify it's expense over flesh and blood educators. I think the future may see the introduction of more human helpers in the classroom that work in a more limited capacity and for a lower hourly rate than regular teachers. They may also have higher paid specialists who come into classrooms for shorter periods of time but get higher wages than regular teachers. In most respects education has not changed much in the last 100 years yet nobody really seems to know how to 'fix' a problem or even if there is a problem. What does seem clear is that we have to somehow focus more on individual students strengths and let them work on those more rather than having kids suffer through so much stuff they are not very good at.

      The other dream of educating individuals through personalized learning with the aid of a computer has also failed miserably. Many people thought that teachers would have quickly been replaced with computers and programs that go at the right speed for each student but that hasn't been shown to work for many students. It can work for highly motivated students who are able to focus but in general it has had very poor results. I'm sure companies are pouring millions into this potential market but so far a human teacher has the best effect in raising learning. Many aspects of our educational systems suck but how to fix it isn't an easy fix. I have some ideas but that's for another post and discussion.

    • One thing that's always bothered me is my father limited my book reading time. The thinking was boys shouldn't become bookworms, they should be out playing sports. Other parents among my friends were like my dad, but they would let them play piano or trumpet as much as they wanted as long as they didn't get into rock music. I was a teen in the 70s.

      We let our teen sons play PC adventure games and they argued hard then and still do now that they learned about places, storytelling, and problem-solving like their piano-playing friends never did. And then they had stuff to talk and bond over in tech companies where almost everyone is a gamer.

    • Research shows that people do benefit from playing games on computers and even suggests that older people should game a bit to stave off dementia. The whole thing is to do things at a reasonable level. What that level is I wouldn't care to speculate but I would say that people who do a wide variety of activities have an advantage over those who don't. We do though each have our interests and strengths and it'd be wrong if we denied people to follow those interests. It's a tricky situation. I get concerned when I see kids not even knowing how to play when their electronic device battery is dead or they aren't allowed to use it.

      Sorry to hear about your lack of reading opportunities when you were younger. Like you I was an avid reader when I was younger and at one point my mother took me aside and said she was concerned with how much I read. It made me feel like crying and to this day has left a significant mark on my life. At the time neither of my parents even read books. It wasn't until I finally finished my first university degree that my parents finally realized the advantages I developed because I had read so much. They both even took to reading when they were retired which was something I was very happy about.

    • I used to own some bookstores in the Silicon Valley, Computer Literacy. I think our San Jose store was the biggest computer bookshop in the world and a frequent stop for people who flew in for conventions.

      There was an undergrad student from Michigan who would fly to San Jose, rent a small U-Haul, and park it in our parking lot for three days. And for those three days he would shop for books in our store and place them in his U-Haul. Then he would drive them back to Michigan.

      His name was Larry Page.

    • just updated the iOS on the family phones. the screen time app is handy but very limited. only 1 blocked time, so say bedtime till morning, but you also want during school to be limited, nope!

      Limited app use yes is a plus but not really limited by time duration, say 30min of screen time but not during school hours for example.

      Hopefully another app takes the lead and enables true remote access to limit screen time with a lot more flexibility.

      Kids are smart and they will work around a lot of things. My kid managed to guess the restrictions passcode and now installed a vpn so he can tunnel to his private browser etc.

      Was fun having to reset all of that the other night (NOT!)

      Apple have been lacking in leadership in this area, it helps them make money so I guess it is what it is.

    • That IS interesting. I'm having a struggle with screen time because I've lived so many scares like this in in past. When I was a teen it was rock music that was destroying our youth. That and the boob tube and boys reading too many books instead of playing outside.

      The thing is I'm very close to many parents in this area who send their kids to private schools who restrict their screen time. All the ones I know grew up in the age of the boob tube scare, but they all watch tons of Game of Thrones, etc. They all grew up playing tons of video games and telling their parents that they were so much better than books because you don't just passively read, you participate. They're all on their phones all day long, all listening to tons rock, all living fine lives.

    • I certainly understand the history of people fearing new technologies but never before has an entertainment device changed our lives quite so drastically. People's brains have been examined and shown to be changed. We also have signs of addiction. As a school teacher I've not seen the supposed benefits of any technology beyond video, other than the use of the Internet to look up some things. If I had the choice, money in my school would be spent on teacher's assistance and on helping kids learn how to evaluate sources and learning how to think critically. Those skills, along with reading and basic math are far more valuable than having more technology in the classroom. The amount of money spent on technology is NOT showing real returns on kid's education and learning. If I had kids I'd rather send them to a school with zero technology but a school that focused on making sure my kid could read and write well, analyze, critique and evaluate. Technology is often used ineffectively and in fact a waste of time in the classroom. I actually made this same comment in our staff meeting just yesterday.

      About 4 or 5 years ago a teacher at our school won a grant to purchase and use a bunch of iPads in a classroom with the goal of being a paperless classroom. Fascinating opportunity and one I was very curious about. The following year myself and several other teachers tried to replicate her attempts though we didn't get any money for it. What an absolute failure. We were each working on it independently and then half way through the year we had a meeting to discuss what we'd experienced so far. Most of us had abondened the experiment because it wasted so much time kids were only learning about half as much stuff. We certainly lost at least 1/3 of our class time messing with technology that was ineffective. The teacher who first got the grant and tried the experiment had the same results we found out later. A good old white board and video monitor worked way better. Throw in a few photocopies and presto back to more learning. That experience left a serious impression on me.

      So should we fear tablets, smart phones and other technologies soon to come our way? Not necessarily fear it but understand the things we are trading off for their use. Too much time wasted checking, checking, checking. Just like the horrendous waste of time I experience from being buried in work emails. If I want to be productive I don't even check it!