Editor’s Note: Every Tuesday, Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer take questions from readers about their kids’ education. Have one? Email them at email@example.com.
Dear Abby and Brian,
My question is one I’m sure you’re hearing from everyone. Our children, one in elementary school and the other in middle school, are spending a lot of time with their iPads and other devices as components of their education this year. How do we create and enforce rules regarding screen time, when time spent on homework apps so easily leads to time spent on gaming apps, FaceTime with friends, etc.?
We definitely want our kids to have social outlets via the iPad, since they aren’t doing as many playdates or after-school activities this year. But it all seems endless and, frankly, soul-crushing. If I didn’t feel like such a monster after spending a zillion hours a day on a screen of my own, I might not understand it. But I feel how they do, just without a report card looming over me.
Before, our kids got iPads on long plane trips. Now they are mainstays of our day. Help!
New York, N.Y.
So many parents share this concern. Before the pandemic started, conversations about screen time were nearly always critical of the kids who spent tons of time staring at screens, and the parents who enabled them. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a widely cited article that linked screen-time use in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to obesity, sleep problems, social and emotional delays, and psychological disorders. Warnings spread about similar dangers for teens and adults.