Screen Time Safety: A Message from Dr. Newman
Results from a Common Sense Media study released spring 2022 reported that the use of electronic media by children and teens, already high, had increased over past years: students ages 8-12 were reported to be on screens 5 hours and 33 minutes per day; students ages 13 – 18 were reported to be on screens 8 hours and 39 minutes per day. This time included time for study, socializing and entertainment.
This result confirms what RESPECT staff have been aware of for several years: many conversations and relationships that students are having are on electronic devices, in social media, about things that happen online and are part of the daily routines of most students.
RESPECT has included the use of electronic communication and interactions in social media in all our plays/workshops based on developmental considerations. Interacting with others online has become part of our culture and the cyberworld of communication has had systemic impact that can be positive. However, there are also some specific risks associated with electronic communication and RESPECT programs are designed to provide students with information, behavioral choices, and practice with trying out helpful strategies and using safe resources, to keep students safe when challenged with uncertain, risky, or dangerous situations online or in cyberspace.
RESPECT has long had specific plays for primary and intermediate grades to help them learn important skills to manage social behaviors and conversations online, how to identify warning signs of potential dangers and how to reach out for help. Premiering this year are Explorers in Cyberspace (grades 1-3) and Navigators in Cyberspace (grades 4-6). You can see full descriptions of these programs and our full catalog at www.respect2all.org/programs.
Being online can be overwhelming for students. They can encounter scary and explicit content. They can feel isolated from others. They can observe relationship behaviors in others that they do not know how to support or prevent. It can be hard to know what is real versus fake. There are risks for exploitation. They can encounter cyberbullying. It can be hard to know how to reach out for help.
Some of the best things to do to help?
- Stay in touch with your child! As always, listen and watch what they are experiencing online.
- Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the technology! Learn and explore together – learn from your child.
- Know where your child is and is going – that include online!
- Personal interactions are happening online and may need to be addressed. Bullying. Negative peer pressure. They may seem to be in the distance but still have a very real impact.
- As always, balance is important. No matter how good online experiences are, too many of them remove opportunities for other types of “live” experiences and interactions. Too much of anything is probably not a good idea!
- Stay in touch with sources like Common Sense Media and your school tech support staff for help!