Studies Shoot Down Tech’s Harmful Effects on Kids—So Now What?

Ultimately, what matters most is that we provide our children with a sense of agency and autonomy by teaching them that tools don’t use us, we use them.Photograph by Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock
It looks like grownups can disregard the fear-mongering about the ill effects of digital media on kids. A 2017 study in Child Development found “little or no support for harmful links between digital screen use and young people’s psychological well-being.”

By Jordan Shapiro | NAUTILUS

Parents can police their kids’ smartphone use if they like, but they should know such restrictions aren’t evidence-based. As authors Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein explain, “a critical cost-benefit analysis is needed to determine whether setting firm limits constitutes a judicious use of caregiver and professional resources.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that parents limit screen time to less than two hours for children two to five years old. But when researchers compared those who implemented these limits with those who didn’t, they found no significant difference in the level of children’s well-being. Apparently, the guidelines hadn’t been empirically evaluated before; they were based on findings which show that media use can supplant other activities, potentially leading to sedentary behaviors and/or loss of sleep.

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