Why Screen Time Limitations Are Irrelevant as a Parenting Tactic

Modern Parenting Tips
May 10, 2021
4 min read

How many times have you been told that your child is spending too much time online and that setting screen time limits is the solution? As a parent, it is completely up to you on whether or not you decide to set these restrictions but, what if screen time isn’t the villain? Studies have been conducted regarding this question and little evidence has found a direct correlation between the amount of time spent in front of a screen and one’s overall wellbeing. More and more pediatricians and researchers have begun to believe that it is less about the amount of time spent on screens and more about the type of online experiences children are having during this time. So, how can you become more involved in your child’s online life and less dependent on screen time restrictions?

What problems are screen time limits really fixing?

Smartphones have made it extremely easy for us to track our screen time and set limits on specific apps. This encourages us to take a step away from our digital devices and in some situations, can be helpful, especially if you feel you have developed an unhealthy addiction to your phone, tablet or computer. But for the modern-day issues that children are facing online, this is an ineffective attempt at improving their online experiences. Think about it this way, which situation would you rather have your child be in?

  1. Your child signs into their Instagram account and the first thing they see is three new comments on their latest post. The first comment says “It’s not too late to delete this”, the second says “this trend is so last week” and the third says “haha stop...you're embarrassing yourself”. Within seconds they have become a victim of cyberbullying. They delete the post and spend the rest of the day worrying about what others think of them, nervous to go to school the next day.
  2. Your child signs into their TikTok account and spends over an hour scrolling through their For You Page. This curated feed is filled with TikToks related to baseball, magic tricks, ways to be eco-friendly, yummy dessert recipes and creatively edited videos. After following a few new accounts and liking some videos, they put their phone down, with a smile on their face and go downstairs for dinner.

Based on those two situations, was the amount of time your child spent online the determining factor? Of course not. It’s what happened during that time that affected their mood. The argument for setting restrictions is usually to protect your child from these situations, but would a screen time limit have changed anything? Nowadays, negative experiences can happen anywhere at any time. Not to mention, limiting a child’s online access often leads to sneaky and defiant behavior. Parents know all too well that kids love to do the opposite of what they are told. When you set these restrictions, your child is likely going to figure out a way to work around them, which undermines the overall goal of strengthening the parent/child relationship. This is where your involvement can make all the difference.

How Involvement Strengthens Parent/Child Relationships

Allowing your child the freedom to explore social media partnered with active parent involvement ultimately results in the development of long-term, healthy digital habits for children. In order to do this, you must take responsibility for teaching your child to make intentional, conscientious decisions online. They need a parent’s guidance to teach them how to post, engage and interact in a way that represents them in a positive light and leaves them feeling confident and inspired. This requires consistent conversations about your expectations for how they will use social media and how to handle certain online situations. Allowing online freedom provides you with the opportunity to teach your child on and offline social skills, the importance of a positive online reputation, and how negative online situations can be used as learning opportunities for improving future online responsibility. The goal is that, over time, they will become more and more aware of how their online actions affect themselves and others. This way, rather than attempting to shield them from negative content and weakening that trust, you can leverage their time spent online as a tool to become closer with your child and strengthen your relationship.

So, how can I become involved in my child’s online life?

If you’re asking this question, you’re one step ahead. Parents are often optimistic about their child’s online activity and unaware of the true blind spot that is affecting the relationship with their child. Cyber Dive's platform can be utilized as a parenting tool by bridging the gap between what a parent thinks their child is doing online versus the reality of a child's online experiences. We have created a monitoring platform for parents who have a screaming pain to better understand, protect and support their child in every way possible. With children spending more and more time in front of their digital devices, it is becoming more evident than ever for parents to get involved in this aspect of their life.

Cyber Dive’s mission believes in providing the necessary tools for parents to raise digitally responsible citizens. Rather than encouraging the restriction of their child’s access to certain sites and apps or setting screen time limitations, we created a fully functional smartphone with unlimited parental monitoring capabilities. Our web application shows things like who they are interacting with, questions they are searching the internet for, the type of content they are posting, and so much more. It is more than likely that your child will come across content that makes them feel uncomfortable or brings up questions they didn’t have before. When this happens, your involvement will allow you to know when it is time to initiate tough conversations about topics like mental health, exploring one’s sexuality, bullying, or suicide. You have the ability to step in and be a resource and support system for your child when they need it. With this insight, you can make a more educated decision when it comes to your child’s screen time usage and if limiting it is the most effective way to improve their online experiences.

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