Kids are better than adults at managing screen time

You don’t need to worry how your kids use technology because you have no idea what is going to matter when they are older. You have no idea how people will communicate when it comes time for your kids to pay their mortgage and put their kids through college – although you can be pretty sure that they won’t be doing either of those things.

What we know is that the decisions kids make are serving them well. Minecraft is an excellent education tool and the New York Times reports that you probably don’t need to be a nut about limiting the time your kid spends playing Minecraft. And in fact, kids who play video games are happier as adults.

We have seen that Twitter makes kids better writers.  Of course, we can also be pretty sure that Twitter is going to morph into the next big thing, but Stanford has done enough research about what sort of writing people do on the Internet vs the classroom, and the Stanford Writing Study concludes that the Internet does more to make your kid a good writer than any writing kids do for school. The result: Millenials are the best generation of writers in history.

Get a little humility. You know what is really detrimental to your brain? Porn. And you know who is using the Internet the most for porn? Conservatives watch the most porn, and that demographic skews much older than any kid you are worrying about.

And don’t be so smug about the fact that you don’t personally watch porn. Because you probably use Facebook, which is just as bad for you. Lots of porn ruins your sex life. But lots of time on Facebook ruins your self-esteem because people use Facebook to promote a rosy version of themselves online that you then compare yourself to – or, worse yet, try to one-up with doctored photos of your rained-out vacations.

My point here is the technology adults use is not particularly good for us. And the technology kids use appears to be pretty good for them.

So maybe you should just worry about your own technology use. Your technology-tethered kids are doing better than you realize.

13 replies
  1. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Every night after the kids are in bed my husband goes to our home office and plays World of Warcraft, it’s so annoying. I don’t mind my kids playing, but he’s 40 and plays till 2am. I just don’t get it but I never give him a hard time about it, I figure it lets him relax after working all day, but I still think it’s weird.

    • Paxton
      Paxton says:

      One of the very first things my wife does when we get home from being out is get on facebook. When I arrive home from work, what site is she usually on….facebook. She spends countless hours purusing that black hole of pics and posts. I think it’s extreme and strange but she seems to enjoy it.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        I agree, that is weird, and facebook is one of the best ways to develop severe depression.

          • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
            YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:


            I’m slightly confused by what you mean. I agreed with you that facebook is horrible.

            Either way, I don’t know you or your wife but I would make a point to talk to her about your concerns. All that time on facebook is really bad for her self-esteem and I hate facebook personally. Twitter is better.

            Once you have kids and homeschool there isn’t a lot of time for facebook or twitter… imo. Just the occasional homeschool blogs. :)

          • Paxton
            Paxton says:

            @YesMyKids, for some reason I cannot respond to your most recent post so I will respond to mine. I was just messing about…thanks for the info.

  2. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Do you know how you’re doing too much video gaming, porn watching, or social networking on Twitter, Facebook, etc.? It’s when any of those activities are interfering with your daily life and you’re not doing stuff that you should or really want to do. As the good professor noted in the NY Times article, there is such a thing as too much Minecraft … or really anything for that matter. So whether you’re a child or adult, I think limits need to be set. Hopefully, those limits are set by yourself that work best for yourself. And there are times that it’s a difficult thing to do.

  3. Katie
    Katie says:

    Yes, BUT: adolescent boys with porn are like rats at a sugar cube lever. We have found that a good way to at least moderate the exposure has been to limit screen time to family rooms. No computers in the bedroom. I would have the same concern about teen girls and chatrooms.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think the public computer idea seems like a good one. I like that what it encourages the kids to do is to make choices that they would be proud of — which is something actually much larger than porn, but maybe has to do mostly with porn as teens.

      I remember, though, being at work and being very conscious of when I was killing time online because everyone could see my screen when they walked by.

      Seems similar to me.


  4. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    I’m glad it’s not another what sucks post.

    The comparison is apt. Do us adults waste half the day on the internet? I’m here, aren’t I? It’s perfectly plausible that, on the whole and in general, kids would come to manage their digital lives better than adults if left entirely to their own devices.

    In specific, though, I find that help with limiting screen and video game time is still useful for my 9 year old. Perhaps it’s in part the conditions of our busy week that can make weekend game playing run to awful: we just have too much to do in our homeschooling week (soccer, fencing, jiu-jitsu, swimming, violin lessons, practice, music theory, electronics, law, programming…) to spend time playing video games during the week, so video games are a weekend thing.

    One problem is that if he gets free reign on the computer for an extended period, there’s a predictable slide, where he starts off with something complicated like Starcraft, switches to Minecraft, spends hours watching videos of Minecraft, does some Train Your Dragon online and ends up vegging out in front of monkeys popping balloons until he’s practically drooling. At that point, he’s probably not eaten for hours, his brain is fried, and it’s very hard to get him to come back to normal so he can interact with other people in a pleasant fashion. For him to get to that point, we have to have been ignoring him all day long. But he does not get to the point of self-regulation yet.

    What helps the most with this isn’t passing down rules that apply to him and him only. What helps the most is collaborating about family norms and plans. On Saturday morning we sit down over breakfast and talk about what we want to do and what we need to get done during the day. Video games figure in, and we schedule them in as they fit among our other things, with a focus on playing together (mom loves Mario Kart, dad loves Minecraft). This is more fun for everybody.

    Our children need to learn moderation; they’re not born with it. They will learn it best through example. They will have to learn to collaborate with others and balance the needs of multiple people. They will learn that best through practice.

    It’s true we don’t know everything about what the future holds. But we can be fairly sure our kids will still have to schedule multiple activities, feed themselves regularly, do some things they don’t think are fun, and if they don’t have to pay mortgages then they’ll have to pay even more in rent.

  5. Laura
    Laura says:

    I’m offended you would say most conservatives look at porn, how is this relevant? Most liberals have abortions. What is worse?

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