Share the Screen

March 1, 2019
Anya Kamenetz
TAKE A BREAK Too much screen time raises your risk of being overweight. It may also prevent you from getting enough sleep.
PETER CADE—GETTY IMAGES

Anya Kamenetz is the author of The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life. She believes a healthy life includes limited screen time.

WILL O'HARE

Have you ever argued with your parents about putting away the tablet or turning off a video game? Most families are fighting these battles. In 2018, Brigham Young University and Deseret News conducted their American Family Survey. It showed that the Number 1 fear for parents of teenagers was too much technology.

You may not remember a time before there were smartphones and tablets everywhere. The iPhone was introduced in 2007. The iPad came out in 2010. But screen time is nothing new. When your parents were growing up, they watched television. They probably played video games, too.

Mobile devices are different, though. This is because they can come with us wherever we go: to the dinner table, into the car, into the bedroom when we’re going to sleep. They are programmed to remind us to pick them up or to keep using them. That’s part of what makes smartphones smart! But it also means they interrupt us when we’re trying to have family time and fun with friends. Everyone is now distracted by his or her own little machine.

Scientists who study the effects of media say too much screen time can cause problems. More than two hours a day of screen time raises your risk of being overweight. Too much screen time at night stops you from getting healthy sleep. Children who grow up with the most screen time can have a hard time focusing. And many families fight about screen time. That’s no fun for anyone.

The solution is to talk about screen time. Make an agreement with your family about where, when, and how you are going to use your devices. No more than an hour a day is recommended for kids during the school week.

And take some time to enjoy your device with your family, perhaps by watching a movie. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls this “joint media engagement.” The group says it’s the best way for kids to grow up healthy in our digital world.

Stop & Think! How is an opinion essay different from a news article? What evidence does Anya Kamenetz use to support her opinion? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?