By Rateb Almasri, HCSS Product Manager
Growing up, I remember the first thing I wanted to do after I came home from school was run outside and play. I spent hours upon hours creating an imaginative battlefield in my backyard or racing my bike down the street with my friends. I learned to be social and competitive, and I created memories that I will carry with me forever.
I recently read an article in The Washington Post called ‘The Screen Age.’ It discussed the era of technology in which internet and tablet usage is easily accessible to this generation. As a father of two toddlers, this article hit home for me. I reflected on the times during my own childhood when I explored outside and how that truly shaped my character, versus the joy–almost obsession–my son experiences when watching YouTube channels on an iPad that don’t necessarily offer much educational benefit. I worry that the dependence on technology will hinder my children’s social abilities.
Granted, as a millennial, I did play video games, too, but screen time is only increasing, and at a rapid pace. Therefore, my wife and I made an agreement that we will limit our kids’ screen time to 30 minutes per day on weekdays, and on weekends incorporate as many outdoor activities as we can. We have found that the less screen time our son receives, the more likely he is to follow instructions and focus on simple tasks at hand. We have found this to be one of the best parenting techniques we’ve implemented for them.
The first couple of days after we implemented the new rules were tough. My son did not like the idea of not being able to watch videos on his iPad whenever he pleases, but he adjusted. My wife and I began to see a change in his behavior, and he was much more social and attentive.
The best advice that I can give any parent based off my experience is to be patient with their kids. My son was used to watching 1-1.5 hours of videos a day and rebelled for a couple of days, but eventually he got used to the new rules.