Screentime Index Page

Original Screentime page, which got too long: as the bogeyman, in which you will be asked to consider the huge threats of too much papertime, or clothtime. What about all that door stuff!?

Many happy links follow Pam Sorooshian's introduction to stepping away from the idea of "screen time":

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

It would be very useful if parents stop using the term "screen time." It is insulting and adversarial. It completely dismisses what your child is actually doing as if it doesn't matter at all. Playing a game is the same as watching a video. Watching one video is the same as watching any other video. What the child is actually doing is all lumped together as "screen time" as if what the child is really doing doesn't matter. And you're explaining to your little child how all of these things he or she enjoys are bad for his brain. Your child is busy developing the script of his/her own life and you're carefully planting, "Things I love don't matter" and "Things I love are bad for me," into that script.

Instead of coming at this from such a deprecating position, come at it from a joyful position. Enjoy it. Glory in it. If your child loves something, love it with him/her. Find ways to expand on it. Find connections to it. Does your child love to play a particular game on the computer? Make cookies that you decorate based on the game, make up stories about the characters in the game, dress up like them, find books or cards, sing the songs from the game, make up physical games like pretend to be the characters in the game and play hide and seek - do all kinds of things that connect to the thing he/she enjoys. Don't disparage it. Don't call it "screen time." Call it what it is - playing that particular game.

Change your approach. Instead of focusing on limiting it and explaining how it is bad, see it as a jumping-off point for all kinds of experiences and conversations! Unschooling is about supporting learning, not by limiting the child's access to what he/she loves, but by expanding a child's access to the world.

Pam Sorooshian
on facebook, December 7, 2013

Roxana Sorooshian's glorious rant on "screentime" in which she describes her electronic activities of one day, and the alternatives

Screentime and a toddler

But... what about an 18-month-old child?

Responses from Joyce Fetteroll, Pam Sorooshian, Virginia Warren and Meredith-Meredith-Plaidpanties Novak, all gloriously enshrined for posterity at Screentime and a toddler

Anna Black wrote:
As for 'screen time', speaking as one who came to this list firmly against any tv, movies, computer games for under-six year olds and very limited exposure after that, I don't see how anyone could read the many links on Sandra's site and hold on to that opinion. My kids choose freely from any activity in our house, we have wonderful times with tv, youtube, Nabi tablets, fabric, Littlest Pet Shop, Barbies, paper, paint, play doh, cooking, music, dancing—often everything all together.

Just as one example, we recently discovered a new YouTube channel called Disney Car Toys which has people reviewing toys and acting out little stories with Barbies and Anna and Elsa dolls from Frozen. Watching these has inspired a frenzy of creativity with my girls' own Barbies and play doh, they sit and create and watch and play all at the same time.

—Anna Black, 2014

Some links to go with Anna's writing above:

TV * Movies * Video Games * Barbie
This page on young children has a play dough recipe

A Screentime NAP?

Sandra, August 2014:
I was at a conference where after speaking about the connections kids make, parents started in about screen time and TV, in the limited Q&A time. Frustrating.

The next day, before I spoke again, I went to lie down, perhaps to have a nap. I was listening to music, playing a video game, and had an alarm set, all on my iPad. Was that nap "screentime" then? I did fall asleep, and the alarm did go off.

AnnMarie Michaels wrote, in late 2016:
I asked 9-year-old Kate to put down the iPad so we could talk at dinner. This is what she wanted to talk about:
1. The fact that Hillary Clinton wanted a no-fly zone in Syria
2. Why Japanese is complex, because, you essentially have to learn 3 languages: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji
3. In reference to I-forget-what, Kate said, "It's just a metaphor, Mom."
When I asked where she learned all this stuff, she said, "YouTube." Aaaannnd this is why I let her watch YouTube all day long.

Right Names

Jo Isaac sent a note and image:

I saw this quote in the Melbourne Museum yesterday, and it made me think of this thread.

Sandra Dodd:

It's a Confucius quote that says "The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name." Then the example is about formal taxonomy—scientific names of animals.
Sandra Dodd:

In another topic someone wrote this:

-=- I use the term "screen time" because I don't want to list "tv, ipod, ipad, AND laptop"...I lump them all into "screen time"..
A couple of people advised against the lumping together.

But even saying that the child is "doing TV" or "on her ipad" or "using the laptop" is not saying what she's doing. Playing a game? Listening to music? Looking at maps or the weather? Youtube? Messages with friends? Sending photos to her grandmother?

Look at your child directly, and not through the lens of other people's fears. See the joy and learning and doing and being. Be with your child in moments, not in hours or weeks or semesters.

Sandra Dodd

Alex Polikowsky:

Yes! Today I posted something and described my daughter as playing a gaming with a friend and chatting. She was playing Minecraft then Roblox with a friend and chatting with said friend via Skype. She was not just on the computer.

Tonight she was reading a fan fiction story on my computer.

It is so easy to dismiss what someone is doing if you just say in the computer , or in the phone or whatever device they are using to do something.

Elsewhere by unschoolers:

Either/Or Thinking and "Screen Time", by Susan May on her blog in June 2013

Unlimited Screen Time (by Jennifer, who once proudly limited it)

Laureen has written two excellent articles on Life Without School:

"Unschooling and the Digital Native"

Digital Natives 2—Stalking the Cultural Referent

A blogpost by a mom who did Waldorf education for a while, but the family moved toward unschooling and is glad. Screentime

Will my child only sit in front of a screen all day... by Alex Polikowsky on her blog—lots of photos of what a serious video-gamer did in addition to gaming this year

Elsewhere / Elsetime

Limiting Your Child’s Fire Time: A Guide for Concerned Paleolithic Parents
By Rachel Klein, February 7, 2018, in The New Yorker
TV Movies Video Games