If you’re looking for someone to tell you that it’s a good idea to limit kids’ screen time, you’ll have no problem finding one, or many. In fact, we tell parents all the time that moderation and balance are important when helping plan and manage their children’s digital activity. Steve Jobs famously declared that he didn’t allow his kids to use tablets like the iPad, preferring that they grow up in the analog world.
Is there a credible voice out there for the opposite view? We may have found one.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a high profile and outspoken entrepreneur, author, public speaker and tech investor (@garyvee on Twitter). He wrote a post on Medium this week titled Our Kids Aren’t Using Too Much Tech. They’re Not Using Enough, in which he says that he refuses to put a limit on his children’s screen time. Let’s take a look at where we agree and disagree:
“Children are growing up with technology. We are moving into a futuristic world. I think it’s great, of course. I definitely get a kick out of seeing Xander try to swipe everything. With the changing world, I want to make sure my kids are part of these cultural shifts. I want them to understand the technology they are going to be faced with daily. I especially want them to be up to date with tech since a lot will depend on it: schools, jobs, and even basic interaction with people.”
We somewhat agree – Actually, we agree with all of the points above. We don’t agree however, that making sure your child is aware of and takes advantage of the available technology means that time limits and boundaries are a bad idea. Parents can allow enough time for technology and still put limits in place.
“I know what some of you already saying. You’re saying, “What about getting outdoors? What about physical activities?” Listen. I’m never going to be that dad that says “Get outside and play!”… if your kid really wants to go outside and play football, she will go outside and play football. Technology hasn’t removed that option from her life.”
Again, we agree to a point – The existence of technology is not mutually exclusive from the idea of going outside to play. Reality does come into play, though. As a suburban dad of kids aged 7 – 16, and a house full of technology, I know that the digital siren song is very seducing, and one you are online it is often easier to stay online than to stop and do something else. Online, there are seemingly endless things to do.
In summary, far be it for us to tell Gary V. or anyone else how to parent their kids, but we are going to stick to our longstanding recommendation – that’s it is a good idea for parents to put time limits on kids’ screen time in order to make sure that school and extracurricular demands are being met, and other interests are being developed. Nor do we think that a complete laissez faire attitude can never work. I myself have access to all the technology that I need and I still make time to get outside and play golf, walk the dog and play with the kids. No doubt some children and teens can manage a similar, or better balance.
Some parents might want to take the hands-off route, but we prefer some limits, that can certainly be relaxed as a child’s age and digital maturity progresses.
Have a different thought? Please let us know in the comments.
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