Can a child have too little screen time? (Plus a coronavirus update)

Hi Friends,

First, hoping you and your family are well and safe.

My son and I are home from Colorado, self quarantined for two weeks (as is anyone who has spent time in Colorado high country), and making the best of it… Tonight we plan to watch some of the original Star Wars trilogy together, I’ve been baking sourdough bread with decent results, and I’ve been working on how to help you and your family stay sane during this time…
Yesterday I made the third in a video series, updates I’m doing during the coronavirus pandemic, and you can click here to watch it. (I highly recommend doing so, as I share the link to my new favorite website for when you’re sick of washing your hands to “Happy Birthday” : )

I wrote today’s newsletter a few weeks ago, trying to batch some content for you before my son and I went away; and I’m bringing it to you now in hopes that it will help you view screen time a little differently, especially as we are all being pounded with requests from our kids to watch lots and lots of screen time.

I plan to keep doing the coronavirus updates, and I’ll send them to you as they become available.

Ninja parents, a.k.a. NPC members, click here for the forum I just created – and am already filling up – called Coronavirus Resources.

And finally I am thinking of you, dear reader, sending you hugs and positive thoughts as we head into this brave new world <3


FYI: this is the second in our series about kids and technology. Click here for the first, establishing some guidelines about kids and technology, and stay tuned for the third, investigating whether technology can cause behavior problems. That’ll be out next week 🙂

When I interviewed Matt Miles and Joe Clement, high school teachers and authors of the excellent book Screen Schooled, a mom in our Facebook group asked:

“Will our children fall behind if they are not introduced to much technology at young ages?”

Like me, I’m sure Matt and Joe could just hear the fear in this question.

What if my kid falls behind, because they weren’t introduced to the right technology when they were young?

Here are Matt and Joe’s answers:

“I would say that is certainly the message you get from educational technology supporters that our kids “will be behind” if they aren’t using tech when they are young.
This argument falls flat if you look a little closer, though.
First, most devices and apps were made to be as easy as possible to use.
Tech firms make money by making things simple for us. They go out of business if the device/app cannot be figured out almost immediately.
So our kids don’t need to have these things early on.
Further, being exposed to an app or gadget early in life does not mean you be a better employee later on. In fact, it might make you worse.
If your answer to any question is to Google it instead of thinking through it, that it’s going to be harder to be productive at work if the answer to question is not on Google.
Think of it this way: who is more likely to be successful in school in the workplace; a kid who has no tech exposure, but has developed the ability to think critically and problem solve; or a kid who has marinated in technology since early life, and has left the thinking to his/her phone?
The first kid is going to be able to learn the tech stuff. The second kid knows the tech stuff but will likely struggle to do the higher order things needed to complete needed to compete at work and school.”
– Joe Clement

“Tech advocates will also mention how quickly the technology is evolving as a reasoning for teaching it in school. Which is certainly the case. But with that – what technology skill are you teaching a kindergarten class that will still be relevant 20 years later when they enter the workforce?
Also, the technologies being implemented in most schools is not what exists in the real world.
You don’t find a lot of companies replacing their laptops with tablets.
No business that I know of uses Google classroom.”
– Matt Miles

As a person who knows what young children need developmentally to thrive, my heart sings when I read these responses from Joe and Matt.

Kids need the same skills now that they’ve always needed:
– the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and see the world from others’ perspectives
– the ability to understand how their acts impact other people
– the ability to communicate meaningfully with others
– the ability to work out problems, face-to-face

These are skills that technology is terrible at.

But fortunately people are wonderful at developing them – even if they are difficult skills to learn, humans learn them, well and quickly.

But only if they are around other actual humans and away from technology, which can isolate kids and disrupt connection with other real people.

So I think the answer is a resounding no: kids can’t have too little screen time.

This doesn’t mean I want you to throw away all devices!
I certainly haven’t thrown away mine, and I don’t expect my children to toss theirs in the trash either.

It does mean, however, that regulating that screen time is super important.
Which is, not coincidentally, what this week’s podcast episode is all about. Click the link below to listen:

All this month, we are exploring kids and tech!
The line between an okay amount of screen time, and too much, may be a fine line, but it’s there somewhere.
If you need help finding it, just hit reply to this newsletter and let me know. I’m happy to help 🙂


Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/in the Ninja Parenting Community…

Thanks for reading!

Wishing you a wonderful parenting week,

What’s up on the podcast this week:
A NEW ninja tactic to help you regulate screen time!

What’s up in the Ninja Parenting Community:
A recent Live, Members-Only Call fleshing out this new ninja tactic:
(If you’re not a member, but you would like to access this, become one by clicking here : )


PS – If you’re enjoying this Parenting Newsletter, click here so you can sign up to receive it in your inbox, or forward it to a friend who needs a parenting boost today.