Swipe Left For Excess – Balancing Pixels And Play In Kids’ Lives

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A note from The Olds (me) about kids, smartphones and social media…

We are not thinking deeply enough or tackling the tough questions about kids and technology.
Too much screentime for a young mind is (clearly) not a good thing.
Governments, schools and (some parents) are scrambling for smarter strategies to keep our kids healthy, happy, and connected — both online and off.

If you think it’s not a big deal… you may not be thinking.

Let me help you out in getting you up to speed:

You don’t have to dig so deep.

Recent findings beyond the sources above have linked heavy screen use with poorer social skills and higher levels of anxiety and depression among kids.
Throw in the global pandemic that turned living rooms into classrooms, and it’s clear why screens are a hot topic.
The challenge isn’t just to cut down screen time, but to make the screen time kids do have really count.

It takes a village (not just a government).

While the United States and Canadian governments (along with others) have kicked off campaigns and floated guidelines to help keep kids’ screen habits in check, they’re clear on one thing: Parents need to take the lead.
After all, no law can police screen time quite like a parent can.
Where I live, the province of Quebec thought about it and then opted not to legislate screen limits, but betting instead on parents to steer the ship.
In Florida, children under 14 will no longer be allowed to make accounts on social media platforms beginning January 1st, 2025

Education meets recreation.

There is no doubt that tech in schools has its perks for enhancing learning, but it’s about finding the right mix.
It’s not about banning screens but using them better — making sure they complement books and blocks rather than replace them.
The goal is to ensure tech-savvy kids also develop essential life skills like critical thinking and communication, not just having them act like office workers who are attached at the hip to their phones and laptops.

Adjust your digital diet.

Experts emphasize setting clear rules at home.
Think of it like tech nutrition — just as you balance veggies and treats, balance educational screen time with fun.
Guidelines from folks like Jonathan Haidt suggest waiting until high school for smartphones and age 16 for social media to keep young brains in check.

Here are a few recent quotes that have made my raise an eyebrow:

  • “We’ve let tech companies and their products set the terms of the argument about what education should be, and too many people, myself included, didn’t initially realize it. Companies never had to prove that devices or software, broadly speaking, helped students learn before those devices had wormed their way into America’s public schools. And now the onus is on parents to marshal arguments about the detriments of tech in schools.” – Jessica Grose.
  • “Children do not have ‘the experience, judgment and self-control’ to manage themselves on those platforms. The association says burden shouldn’t be entirely on parents, app stores or young people — it has to be on the platform developers.” – Jonathan Haidt
  • “They (the social platforms) are rewiring their brains so they have similar symptoms as autistic brains, where they’re having trouble reading social cues, feeling comfortable and social situations… Your kids need boundaries.Dr. Perry Adler.

This is what Elias Makos and I discussed on CJAD 800 AM. Listen in right here.

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