Kids and Online Guidelines? All screens are not created equal


March 28, 2016 by HCDE Communications

Kids and Online Guidelines: All screens are not created equalThe days of limiting screen time use by kids are fading.  The idea that screens are hurtful to youth and will fry brain cells is being discounted. In truth, youth are using screens to tell stories, make music, manage money, build friendships and create worlds.

While research shows that youth are using screen devices for more than nine hours a day, the advice to limit that use is getting a 21st century makeover.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is revising suggested screen time for kids with the following issued statement: “In a world where ‘screen time’ is becoming simply ‘time,’ our policies must evolve or become obsolete.”

Rather than recommending specific time limits the AAP has issued the following new guidelines:

1. Be the parent and be a role model. “The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and virtual environments. Play with them. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Be involved. Also, limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.”

2. We learn from each other. “Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication. Talk time between caregiver and child is critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers.”

3. Content matters. “The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.”

4. Be engaged when your kids are using technology. “Family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. For infants and toddlers, co-viewing is essential.”

5. It’s OK for your teen to be online. “Online relationships are integral to adolescent development. Social media can support identity formation. Teach your teen appropriate behaviors that apply in both the real and online worlds. Ask teens to demonstrate what they are doing online to help you understand both content and context.”

With an increase in the use of screen devices, it’s also important for youth to be taught how to behave in the online space just like they are taught how to play nice on the playground.

Learning the skills of digital citizenship is necessary for the youth of the today.

James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, said it nicely: “Well, I think, first and foremost, every kid in this society needs to learn digital literacy and citizenship, the safe, smart, ethical use of digital devices. We all hear about cyber-bullying and privacy violations and really not-so-good stuff that happens on media and technology platforms.”

With the prevalence of technology today, we should not keep it away from kids but rather allow them to naturally learn how to interact in the digital world they are growing up in. We will guide them in the social and technical skills they need.  With guidance, they will use screen time to expand their creative energies and learn to regulate their online behavior.

About the Blogger:
Lynnice Hockaday is a technology analyst for the Teacher and Learning Center at HCDE. For the past 20 years, Lynnice has been an educator, curriculum specialist, technology coach and online instructor, and loves helping students and teachers reach outside the classroom walls by engaging and collaborating worldwide through online learning. Lynnice stays very busy outside of work with three active kids and enjoys hiking and biking in her spare time.


One thought on “Kids and Online Guidelines? All screens are not created equal

  1. Norah says:

    Great advice. Children certainly do learn from the adults around them and need that two-way communication to develop language. They are living in a digital world. It is important that they do so effectively.

Leave a Reply

HCDE news in your inbox

Subscribe to receive news from Harris County Department of Education by entering your email address below

Get Social!

Talk to us

HCDE Communications wants to hear from you! Have a question or a story idea? Send us an email.

©2023 Harris County Department of Education