Limited Screen Time

Limited Screen Time

Taiwan recently just made it illegal for kids not to have limited time on screens.

Is screen time bad for us? Is it at any rate beneficial to our learning process?

And the most important question… Why do I care about this?

We all have arguments at our place. Tolstoy once perfectly wrote in Anna Karenina that “all happy families are alike; every unhappy family it’s unhappy in its own way.”

I am happy to be a part of an unhappy family. In its own way. I should be grateful for it, right? A permanent-constant happy place must be a nightmare to live in…

Anyway, long ago my family and I were having dinner at our kitchen table, as usual, with our TV on. When my Mexican friends came to Spain for their exchange program, they were actually surprised to see Spanish families eating with their TVs on.

– Is this normal? – they asked.

– Yes – I said – or at least, that’s how we eat in my place too.

So back to the initial point, our family was having dinner, sharing our quality time together with the TV on. Oftentimes muttering something that was being discussed on that small-sized screen. Those mutters contained the kind of comments one should only say when at home. Otherwise you would get in trouble or insulted. So its safer to pronounce them under your family’s roof.

That Thursday, we were having pizza just like in any other Thursday. It was pizza night, and there was this show called Operación Triunfo still on.

– You’re an antisocial. It’s like your face is glued to the computer – said my father.

– I also study – I said.

– But, even on weekends? You’re an antisocial – he said, insisting.

– You do the same with the TV, what’s the difference?

– It’s not the same – said my father.

What’s the difference? It’s still a screen. The mere fact that we are altogether watching the TV, doesn’t imply that we communicate among each other.

What should I do anyway? Go play with my friends at the park?

Yes, I may have spent little too much time on the screen. And I keep doing it, as my father keeps reminding me everyday about how “much time this kid wastes on screen, writing and writing. She’s 22 years old is already wasting her life online”. Please note I erased all the bad words. You’re welcome.

So you must have already noticed it’s a recurrent topic in our family to discuss my obsession of spending time online. And it’s not only me, but also all Gen Y and Gen Z. This has affected us into different rates through diverse social media, but basically we all spend a major amount of time on the Internet.

And now that I write a blog, I spend even more time on the computer. Just because it’s faster to write. Otherwise I feel I lose too much time writing by hand… then I’d be even more antisocial. And we don’t want that to happen.

As a matter of fact, (and to justify the humongous amount of time I spend online) I did a little research on screen time to see whether it is beneficial or not for personal growth & development.

I found this great article quoting a psychology teacher called Sandra Calvert from Georgetown University stating that screen time can boost “executive function skills,” those competencies like reasoning and problem solving. The kind of competencies that are not learned in school, basically. Because there, you learn to follow the rules.

For kids (or not kids anymore), Calvert states that the exposure of video games boosts the visual coordination with the extremities, as well as logic. There’s evidence on the visual boosting thing. Apparently it helps you process all the inputs you get from the exterior in a very reduced time.

We probably tend to idealize the past, thinking that before having smartphones and/or MacBooks, we were actively talking to any stranger from the street, every neighbor we would find or accepting sweets from strangers. You get the picture. Even hugging people we have never seen. You get it.

But it was not like this. Yes, the introduction to new devices has negatively affected the hours we spend in direct contact with other people. But it all depends to one’s personality type. For instance, ENFJs are talkative and extrovert, that’s why they’d be the ones who would most likely talk to a stranger from the bus. ENPs also tend to be more talkative but to people they already know. And when they begin, they won’t stop talking. I promise you… my sister is an ENFP.

On contrary, ISTP and ISFP don’t talk to strangers nor known people. They’re really introvert. Or shy. And they tend to be the biggest consumers from Internet, but without participating or generating content. I’m not in any of these two categories, I fall somewhere in the middle.

That’s why we don’t have to prohibit someone from using of internet. Because eventually, if someone is more extrovert, they won’t spend that much time online or in front of the computer. On contrary, if someone is more introvert, they’d most likely use Internet to learn and to receive more inputs. In a more or less productive way.

With that many studies out there about video games and screen time being positive for the learning process it’s absurd that we still consider our screen time as wasted. It’s in fact, the opposite, we now have control over the decision to select the information we want to interact with. Unlike TV, we now can have power over the content, we no longer do zapping… 

We have just transported the habit of watching TV, reading, playing, writing and interacting into our fancy devices.

There’s plenty of articles about pros and cons of educating a child with video games. This one is really interesting and well written, direct to the point and exhaustive. Moreover, it’s funny to see the comments that readers leave. Anyway, Gen Z and Y will soon graduate from college… or maybe not.


What do you think? Are you against or in favor of investing screen time?

How has this affected to your personal and professional life? Thanks for sharing!