Next Thing you Know, Research Will Tell Us That Playing with Legos is Good for Kids

It’s a tale as old as time. A new technology comes along, and parents are worried it is going to ruin their children.

The latest culprit is technology – the Internet, smartphones, social media, etc.

Many parents set limits on how much time their children can spend with such technology each day.

However, a joint study between the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University published in the journal Child Development found that there was ‘no consistent correlation’ between limiting screen time and a range of child well-being measures.

This is certainly not the outcome most would have predicted.

In fact, an Oxford University summary of the findings indicates that children may be better off with more device time:

Further research indicates similar results to those reported in the recent study of adolescents; that moderate screen-use above the recommended limits might actually be linked to slightly higher levels of children’s wellbeing.

The British report recommended that parents actively engage with their children in exploring the digital world, and a recent article in the WSJ says that U.S. experts take the same view:

One way to sum up the new way of thinking is to differentiate between “passive” screen time, such as viewing videos, and “active” time, including creative pursuits but also (parent-approved) videogames.  Limiting passive time could be the new version of limiting screen time.

This view has also been reflected in guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which for the past two years has said that the emphasis should be on what children are doing with their screens, rather than the total amount of time spent using them. Instead of enforcing time-based rules, parents should help children determine what they want to do—consume and create art, marvel at the universe—and make it a daily part of screen life.

I am a strong believer in the power of technology to enhance the learning process and to enhance creativity. Simply limiting screen time discourages such learning and creative output.

As with any new technology, parents have a responsibility to learn about that technology and its possibilities. Only then can they be an effective guide for their children to reap the rewards from using such technology in the most effective and engaging way.

I’m guessing when Legos first came out there was skepticism about playing with plastic blocks. Shouldn’t kids be outside? Isn’t playing with toys a waste of time?

I would hope by now that people have learned how great Lego blocks are. And there was no need for a research study to tell us so.

Do we really need a research study to tell us that technology can be a key part of a child’s learning and creative growth?

It seems obvious to me…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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