British academics last month argued that previous guidance to limit the screen-time of children to 1-2 hours is now outdated. A new report says that the same conclusion is being reached by childcare professionals in the U.S. also …

NordVPN

The British report recommended that parents actively engage with their children in exploring the digital world, and the WSJ says that U.S. experts take the same view.

One way to sum up the new way of thinking is to differentiate between “passive” screen time, such as viewing videos, and “active” time, including creative pursuits but also (parent-approved) videogames, says AnnMarie Thomas, director of the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., where her team creates hands-on learning experiences for children of all ages. Limiting passive time could be the new version of limiting screen time.

This view has been reflected in guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which for the past two years has said that the emphasis should be on what children are doing with their screens, rather than the total amount of time spent using them. Others agree.

Instead of enforcing time-based rules, parents should help children determine what they want to do—consume and create art, marvel at the universe—and make it a daily part of screen life, says Anya Kamenetz, a journalist and author of the coming book “The Art of Screen Time—How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life.”

All are, however, keen to emphasise that this doesn’t mean parents can be complacent about screen-time.

There are legitimate concerns about children and screen time, ranging from physical inactivity to online bullying and even an increase in mental-health issues in teens. Watching video remains, unfortunately, a huge portion of the average U.S. child’s waking hours. According to recent data, children between ages 2 and 11 spend four-and-a-half hours a day in front of screens. That cuts into physical activity, socialization and the good kind of boredom that spawns creativity and resourcefulness, researchers say.

In our poll, we found that the majority of 9to5Google readers who are parents do limit their kids’ screen-time, the largest proportion opting for 1-2 hours a day.

Photo: Valery Sharifulin/Tass/Getty Images

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear