NPR: Screentime and Emotions?

Recently, NPR posted a story on a study that claims a few days of screen access can interfere with children’s ability to detect emotions in the faces of others.  Specifically, they said:

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers.

Of course, the study was small and limited to two groups of sixth graders.  Also, the study isolated screens from the students by sending them to a summer camp for a week.  That’s a drastically different environment than being at home without digital screens.

But the piece was a good reminder – are we being intentional with our students about when, where and how screens play a role in their relationships?  How are we monitoring our use of screens in the home?  And how are we, as parents, modeling good screen behavior?

If you haven’t completed the Common Sense Media customizable device contract [PDF] as a family, perhaps now is a good time to do so.  In that resource, you’ll see questions like these:

  • Decide where you’re comfortable having your kid use the device. Can they only use it in family spaces, like a family room or kitchen? Can they bring it into their bedroom or the bathroom? Can they use it at the dinner table? 
  • Talk about what it means to “balance” time spent with technology, media, and other activities. What are some steps your family can take to balance screen time with face-to-face time? Do you want to make the dinner table a device-free zone, in which no family member (not even the adults) may use a cell phone, tablet, or computer? Do you want to set a curfew for when devices need to be shut off?

How are you setting limits and making decisions about your family use of media and screens?

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