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Worried about your kid’s screen time? Parenting issues arise due to social media, online schooling

A survey found 71% of parents in the U.S. with children under 12 say they are concerned their kids spend too much time in front of a screen.

Pandemic life has meant, for many, school via Zoom, FaceTime play dates and so much more gaming. All of that time staring at screens has many parents wondering: What will the lasting effects of this era be?
Pandemic life has meant, for many, school via Zoom, FaceTime play dates and so much more gaming. All of that time staring at screens has many parents wondering: What will the lasting effects of this era be?
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How much screen time is too much screen time is a question the Rivera family has grappled with as they raise their children.

Leroy Rivera is a 34-year-old father living in The Bronx, New York, with his wife and two children, who are 13 and 2. They have set screen time rules for their children because they recognize the negative effects it might have on the long run.

“If you have social media, and you see people doing things differently than you are, there’s going to be a mental effect because you’re always going to compare yourself,” Rivera says.

The fear of screen dependence getting out of control is echoed across America. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that over 71% of parents in the United States with children under 12 said they are concerned their kids spend too much time in front of a screen.

Our new reality, with many schools across the country shifting to beginning the academic year with remote learning, is that children will be continuing to spend more time with technology — for work, play and basic interaction.

Pandemic life has meant, for many, school via Zoom, FaceTime playdates and so much more gaming. And all of that time staring at screens has many parents wondering: What will the lasting effects of this era be?

“It’s a 24/7 endeavor from the minute they wake up to the minute they fall asleep,” says Adina Kalish, a mother with two daughters, 14 and 17, who she says are addicted to their phones. ”If it’s not managed correctly from the get-go, it can get out of control.”

Our new reality — with many schools across the country shifting to beginning the academic year with remote learning — is that children will be continuing to spend more time with technology for work, play and basic interaction. 
Our new reality — with many schools across the country shifting to beginning the academic year with remote learning — is that children will be continuing to spend more time with technology for work, play and basic interaction.
stock.adobe.com

Two recent reports — one based on a survey from Pew and another from Common Sense Media — honed in on that. Navigating the typical ups and downs of raising kids under the weight of coronavirus-related restrictions has left many in uncharted territory, with two-thirds of parents with at least one child under 18 saying parenting is harder than it was 20 years ago, the Pew survey found.

As noted by Common Sense’s report on the mental health impacts of technology on young people, that technology also can be a safety net for teenagers who have access to it.

“Impacts of digital technology are likely to vary widely between adolescents; those who are vulnerable due to existing mental health problems or household circumstances may be both at heightened risk and have the most to gain from positive and equitable access to the online world,” the Common Sense report said.

Michael Robb, a co-author of the Common Sense report, says the pandemic worsened the inequalities in the usage of digital technologies in America.

“Many of our most vulnerable adolescents, especially those who are Black, Latinx or from lower-income households, are unable to reliably access or receive support in digital spaces,” Robb says.

He echoes the findings of The Pew Research Center, in which the results also vary among demographics. Half of Black parents and 40% of Hispanic parents surveyed say their child 11 or younger who watches YouTube videos does so several times a day, compared with 29% of white parents.

And the Pew survey was conducted in early March — before many of the stay-at-home orders and school closings took effect, leaving America’s children much more screen-dependent for education, entertainment and even basic human connection.

For John Calderon, in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, excessive screen time is negatively affecting the way his 19- and 15-year-old children interact with others. Calderon says they prefer the screen over a conversation. But he says he’s seen an improvement on the ways it can help his children learn.

“The world is so much smaller now,” Calderon says. “Because of this technology, my kids are now exposed to other cultures and can learn from them.”

For the Rivera family, technology has been a safety net for their daughter during COVID-19.

“During COVID, a lot of my daughter’s friends moved away, and she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” Rivera says. “With her phone, it’s helped her keep in touch with them.”

Read more at usatoday.com