10 Reasons Why Screen Time Isn’t a Waste of Time

Why I haven’t jumped on the “screen-free summer” bandwagon…

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Why I haven't jumped on the "screen-free summer" bandwagon

Screens seem to get a bad rap in the parenting world. As technologically advanced as our society is, devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs are often treated like pariahs in the parenting world. Interestingly enough, where do most people vent about the dangers of these fearsome gadgets? On their screen technology.

Sigh. 

Now let me be clear about one thing. My younger kids do have limits on their screen time. In fact, they’re only allowed on their phones and tablets on the weekend- yes…even over summer break- and they’re only allowed to watch pre-approved television during the week.

But I refuse to write off screen time as being this horrible abomination that some people make it out to be. There is simply too much value in it.

10 Reasons Why Screen Time Shouldn’t Get a Bad Rap

1. Those games that drive you crazy? They’re more educational than you think.

Games are more educational than you think.

In my experience as the wife and mother of some avid gamers, there is so much educational content overlooked simply because people don’t take the time to see what they’re all about.

My son learned how to read and follow maps by playing World of Warcraft. The other day, my daughter gave me an intricate description of the smelting process from her experience with Minecraft. Just today, my kids were playing Animal Jam, a game developed by National Geographic that actually includes short videos about the animals that inspired the characters.

Take a look at those games you’re kids are enamored by. You might be surprised.

2. Videos, movies, and documentaries are more engaging for some kids than reading a book.

Some kids learn better by watching TV

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a huge bookworm, but…not everyone is like that. Hard to believe, but true. 😉

Let’s be honest and admit that there are some people who simply learn better through visual media than they do through books. Why take away the best option for them because of a stereotype based on fear?

3. There is a bit of a double standard between visual media and audiobooks.

audiobooks

Audiobooks are often touted as being a wonderful resource for homeschooling families, and I agree. But why is it that they are placed on a pedestal while videos, interactive games, and, yes, TV shows are looked down upon as “babysitters”?

I just don’t quite get the distinction. Truth be told, I believe the screen options will reach more children than audiobooks might, if for no other reason than that not everyone is an auditory learner.

Shouldn’t we be aiming to meet our kids where they’re at?

4. We are so conditioned to look for things that are “educational” that we often overlook the value in media often deemed as “fluff.”

Open your eyes to true education

Even for those of us who do allow our kids to watch videos and TV shows, how often are we guilty of writing off certain programs because we don’t feel they hold any educational value?

Take “H20- Just Add Water,” for instance. When my kids first started watching it, I thought it was just about the dumbest show on the earth.

I mean, really. Mermaids?

And then I actually sat and watched it with them. This show that I was so quick to label as a waste of time ended up giving my kids more educational tidbits than I ever dreamed of.  They learned about Australia, dolphins, fish, geography, friendship, and- believe it or not-the importance of obedience.

Who knew?

5. Kids need down time, too.

Kids need down time.

Come on. Admit it. As a parent, you have days when you just want to sit on the couch and veg out all day.

I know I do.

A few months back I was spending every Friday afternoon and evening watching back-to-back reruns of “Destination Truth.” There are times that we all need to wind down and relax. Screens are one way to do that.

6. Subtitles are a great way for kids to learn how to read and spell.

Using subtitles to teach reading
Don’t freak out. They were talking about Tasmanian devils. 😛

I spent much of this past year working on reading and phonics with my 6 and 7 year olds. Although they certainly made progress, I have seen an explosion of growth during this summer break on their fluency and even their spelling through our use of subtitles on the TV.

I can’t even take credit as this being some bright idea I had. The truth is, since our house is quite loud all the time, we always have the subtitles turned on. I guess every cloud does have a silver lining. 🙂

7. Games are a great way for kids to learn how to read and spell.

Games can help children learn to read and spell.

Games are another fantastic motivator for getting your kids to read. A few months ago, I was amazed to find my then-3 year old typing simple words into Roblox completely on her own.

Kids are very resourceful. After spending a good amount of time asking how to spell things over and over again, they become more determined to make things go faster by doing things on their own.

What a great incentive to learn how to read, right??

8. Like it or not, this is our future.

Technology is the future

Believe me, I am not happy about this. I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I use it pretty much because I have to, so think about this:

If  screen technology is this prevalent in the present, how much more so will that be in the future? If we refuse to allow our kids to experience the ins and outs of this tool, we’re not fully preparing them for adulthood, are we?

9. Screen time can encourage critical thinking skills and logic.

Screen time encourages critical thinking

I’ll admit that this isn’t true of all games, videos, and movies, but it is certainly factual for a great portion of them.

My oldest daughter loves to play The Legend of Zelda. That entire game is pretty much one giant puzzle. You simply cannot play that game without having sharp critical thinking skills. Well, you could, but you wouldn’t get very far.

Even games such as Slither.io and Agar.io, which seem pointless at first glance, necessitate an enormous amount of concentration and strategy.

Try playing one yourself, and you’ll see!

10. Screen time can encourage the use of math in a way that is meaningful.

Screen time makes math meaningful.

As parents, I think we all know that some kids have quite a bit of trouble with math. It’s too abstract, and it doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Math in the context of a game, however, makes a whole lot of sense because it is actually meaningful.

If you ask a child what 1000 – 400 is, for example, they might answer immediately, or they might look away in frustration. If you ask a child how much more gold they’ll need to buy a piece of armor for their character, though, you’re bound to get the correct answer pretty quickly.

Math just comes more naturally when it’s actually relevant.

In our home, screen time isn’t considered a free for all for our children. There are limits, and we do enforce them. On the other hand, though, I will not ban screens completely. They hold more value than we give them credit for, and I intend to use those benefits to strengthen the skills of my children.

What are your thoughts on screen time? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

This post is a part of:

never waste of time

 

 

 

 

Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

19 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why Screen Time Isn’t a Waste of Time”

  1. Another fantastic article – thanks! So true….. so many ‘professionals’ criticize screen time and actually influence how parents perceive it that so many parents worry and cannot see the relevance of its educational value. I too allow screen time with limitations as I can see how much it does help. I use DVDs to compare books and ask the kids to compare and contrast the book against the movie eg Charlie and the Chocolate factory or Matilda etc. This is always a useful educational task. I love books but I can also see the value of screen time. I also set specific tasks where the kids have to research a topic using the tablet. I’m amazed at how quick and confident they are. You are so right that we live in a time where technology is a must and having the skills to use it are so important. So thanks for this article which makes those parents who do allow screen time to feel like they are doing the right thing. As with everything, moderation is the key.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Screen time has been given a bad reputation, this is true. But this may be greatly due to the unhealthy over use of this activity. Yes, there are benefits to screen time. However, balance is key. And although our future will undoubtedly be ever more involved in technology; it is when we are together, close by, and with our family and friends that we need to be less involved with technology, and more present with each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yes, I have seen people who really are addicted to it. That’s why I am diligent about keeping limits on the screen time for my non-high school age kids. So far, my teens have been pretty good at keeping it balanced.

        Like

  2. I find that my boys learn so many new skills while playing video games and are willing to work so much harder on things like reading, math, and spelling when they’re on-line. Suddenly writing a message to a friend they find that spelling and punctuation are important… trying to “buy” something for newest world they look at the coins they’ve earned, how many more coins they need, debate which item to spend their coins, and figure out how many coins they have left and how long it will take them to save back up. We don’t aim for a screen free summer either but I do try to limit their playing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel the same way! My ipad is like my newspaper, telephone, mailbox, and entertainment center all rolled in one. Technology is our future, so by severely limiting the use of it, one could hold their child back without realizing it. Limits and guidance, yes, for young children, but eased as they get older. Just about everything in college is on the internet now, so it’s a skill they’ll need.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing! We dropped nearly all screen time since moving, and it has been a great thing for our family, but when we have our day of rest on Sunday, we will spend hours watching several movies sometimes. And some days my husband and I just want to take a walk around the yard without being followed by children, so we put on a show for the kids to keep them occupied and out of trouble while we walk. And yes, once in a while, I’ll put something on for the kids because I need a break or I need to work on something without the house becoming a mess or without constant interruption. I admit that during those occasions, we do use it as a baby sitter, but compared to what so many people watch and do, it still totals next to nothing! And we’re picky about what they watch and play, because it is so easy to give them good things as it is to accidentally allow them to indulge in something that is not good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’ve got a great balance of things. I think that, too often, we always think of extremes when it comes to screen time. On one end, there’s- no screen time- ever! And on the other it’s a screen time free for all. But I think that most of us are somewhere happily in the middle, and you know what? That’s okay!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. #5 – Talk about double-standards. For some reason, adults are allowed some “Veg Out” time after a hard day at work, but kid’s get grief about it. There are times (especially this summer after they’ve been outside A LOT) that they need some relaxation time.
    Great thoughts. It’s a digital generation. Their childhoods will never look like ours did. We need to give a little.
    Oh, and my girls love H20, too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I appreciate your twist on screen time. I totally agree. Any good thing can be a bad thing and we have focused too much on the detriment screen time can cause. Used as a learning tool even when children don’t know their learning is awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much for focusing on the GOOD side of screens. There’s so much about the negatives in the homeschool community, and it’s refreshing to hear about the positives. I absolutely agree on all of things. Like everything in life it’s about balance. A few generations ago being a “bookworm” had some of the same connotations as being a couch potato does today. But while spending all your time on any one pursuit is a bad idea, there is a lot of value to screens.

    (OH, and one tip…passwords are also great for teaching spelling. We change the password on our computer regularly to different things we want our children to learn, like our phone numbers, street address, and various spelling words).

    Liked by 1 person

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