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Kids and screen time

Kids and screen time – how much is too much?

Parenting has most probably never been easy. Smartphones and an easily accessible internet connection and social media have added challenges. A survey by US-based Pew Research found that 66% of parents estimate that it’s harder today than it probably was 20 years ago, many citing technology as a reason. Google has published a manual for training kids online that is also available in a classroom version.

The Be Internet Awesome manual teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence.

“One lesson that applies to any and all encounters of the digital kind: When kids come across something questionable, they should feel comfortable talking to a trusted adult. Adults can support this behavior by fostering open communication at home and in the classroom”, the manual says.

  • Be clear about family or classroom rules and expectations around technology, as well as consequences for inappropriate use.
  • Keep the dialogue going by checking in frequently and encouraging kids to ask questions.
  • Extend the conversation to other trusted adults like teachers, coaches, counselors, friends, and relatives.

Among advice in the manual (that can also prevent more grownups from making mistakes) are:

Share with care. Learning how to share with those we don’t know

  • If it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post
  • Keep personal details about family and friends private

Be internet alert. Don’t fall for Fake

  • If statements about “winning” or getting something for “free” feel too good to be true, they most likely are.
  • Always think critically before acting online and learn to trust your intuition

Be internet strong. Secure your secrets

  • Do not use the same password on multiple sites.
  • Create a few different variations of the same password for different accounts.

Be internet kind. It’s cool to be kind

  • – Stop the spread of harmful or untrue messages by not passing them on to others.
  • Encourage kids to speak up against and report online bullying.

One of the most debated issues is screen time. How much is too much?

The Pew survey shows parents with young children themselves make clear they are anxious about the effects of screen time.


71% of parents of a child under the age of 12 say they are at least somewhat concerned their child might ever spend too much time in front of screens, including 31% who are very concerned about this.

“Parents overall are also apprehensive about the long-term effects of smartphones on children’s development: 71% believe the widespread use of smartphones by young children might potentially result in more harm than benefits.”

89% of parents of a child age 5 to 11 say their child watches videos on YouTube, as do 81% of those who have a child age 3 to 4 and 57% of those who have child age 2 or younger.


“And while majorities of parents whose child uses YouTube credit the platform for entertaining and educating their children, a majority of these parents are concerned about their child being exposed to inappropriate content on the video sharing site.”

When asked if the parents themselves spend too much, too little or not enough time on their phone, 56% say they spend too much time on their smartphone, 68% say they are at least sometimes distracted by their phone when spending time with their children.

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