A Screen is a Screen is a Screen
It's a daily dilemma: If you allow a certain amount of screen time per day -- whether it's TV, the computer, or a video game -- which one is the best way for kids to spend their time?
Is it video games? After all, they're interactive, they have teaching potential, and there's the possibility that they could help your kid develop quick reflexes. What about time online? Lots of parents value what their kids can do online -- like get help with their homework and learn facts from wiki sites. And how about the good ol' tube? There are so many educational shows that expose kids to the wonders of the world. Plus, TV watching can be family time.
Believe it or not, there's no magic formula. As long as you limit the total screen time and choose age-appropriate shows, games, and websites, a screen is a screen is a screen. Also, the lines between each type are blurring. Kids are watching TV online, downloading movies to the Wii, and playing games on their phone. It's all screen time. And what's most important is how you manage whatever screen happens to be calling out to your kid.
How to Figure Out What's Best for Your Kid
Know your kid: What kind of mood is your kid in today? You may want her to spend some quality time on the computer with Math Missions, but it won't be productive if she's tired. Consider letting her watch a show like Crashbox, which has challenging but fun interactive games that stimulate young minds.
Maintain balance: Lots of TV time this week? Even an educational immersion in Shark Week can make kids' eyes glaze over and their muscles atrophy. Ease them over to an active game like Wii Sports. Sure, it's still screen time, but at least they're moving.
Choose wisely: What they're watching, playing, and interacting with does matter. Help kids make age-appropriate choices so that the content is in sync with where they are developmentally.
Relax: Don't feel guilty for letting your kid blow off some steam with Bejeweled or vegging out in front of iCarly. TV, computer, and video games can all be great educational resources to tap into when you need them, but kids don't need to be drilled all of the time in order to learn.
What would you rather have your kid do? Games, TV, or Computer?