Face Time, Not “FaceTime” – By Robin Pappas

Any time a child spends looking at an electronic screen – a smart phone, an iPad, a computer, a television – is considered screen time.  How much time does your child spend looking at a screen?

Research shows that children who have access to too much screen time per day can have delayed speech, and lack social and emotional skills. We see this when children have a hard time looking adults or other children in the eyes. Some children lack the confidence to ask a friend to play or for help. They are becoming accustomed to looking at a screen for artificial interactions. It seems like it’s almost natural to look down now, rather than look someone in the eyes. We are making it harder to teach our children basic common courtesy, such as greeting one another. When our youngest learners are walking into school while looking down at a screen, they are missing the important human contact of saying “Good Morning.” When they sit in a restaurant with their families, and they are looking at screens rather than talking about the world around them, we are decreasing their opportunities to learn the skills necessary to interact with others. We know that young kids learn language best through interactions and engagement with other people, and their parents are a vital source for that interaction and engagement.

Screens, of any kind, are meant to be used as tools, not as a replacement for human contact. The American Pediatric Association recommends that screen time be limited to no more than 1 hour a day for children 2 to 6 years of age. And it is recommended that limits continue throughout childhood. So it is best to set healthy patterns of use now. Good habits begin at a young age. There is no replacement for conversation and interacting with one another. Our children learn by example. Our screens cannot replace meaningful and deep, and silly conversations. Our voices are important for our children to hear, and our facial expressions need to be seen, and our children’s voices also need to be heard, as they develop the ability to express themselves verbally.

The next time you are about to give your child screen time, ask yourself: is this a replacement for human contact? Is this for learning, or is this so you, yourself, can have a few minutes of quiet?

Let’s keep talking to our children!

Written by guest blogger,

Robin Pappas, Director of Early Learning

6 Responses to Face Time, Not “FaceTime” – By Robin Pappas

  1. David Salama says:

    Yet another reason why Hillel should adopt the “wait until 8th” campaign (https://www.waituntil8th.org) – call it the “wait until Bar/Bat Mitzvah” campaign. I personally think it’s sad to students in my son’s 3rd class with smart phones for a whole host of reasons. Such a campaign would need to be initiated through meetings with parents starting in Kindergarten or first grade – and collectively agree to the pledge. It has been done successfully in may other schools and I personally believe Hillel should be participating as well.

    • Jared Berman says:

      David- I for one would enjoy the discussion. If we, as parents, limit screen time and teach our kids how to use these devices responsibly, I don’t know that I immediately see the need for this pledge. But I am interested in other viewpoints. We cannot ignore that using technology is a critical skill set that we must teach our children. No doubt social media is dangerous and some of these video games are a waste of time and not healthy.

      • David Salama says:

        Jared – I am not trying to ignore using technology – Hillel rightly already uses a wide array of technology in the classroom to prepare students for the dynamic world. I do not see the educational value in giving a 9 year old a smart phone – my children at home and at school have plenty of opportunities to use iPads and computers under parental supervision. I do not see the need for a child to have unfettered access to the internet as well as the perils that having a phone comes with.

        Hillel, I have come learn, allows children to use their cell phones if they have one and if the teacher deems it appropriate for in-use class room use. This however creates a contrast between the haves and the have nots and leads to teasing and bullying. Hillel has a dress code, in part, so that students are not showing off designer name-brand clothing – but for some reason, allowing children to whip out their $1000 iPhones is somehow appropriate?

        The leaders and giants of technology (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others) have gone on the record saying they themselves would not give their own children a smart phone before the age of 14. It’s sad that there Steve writes about his students walking into school basking in the glow of their smart phones – it is further reason that I think a modified version of the “wait until 8th” pledge would most defiantly be appropriate for our community.

  2. Andrea Trivax says:

    I agree with David and the “Wait Until 8th” campaign. I understand parents wanting to be connected to their kids, especially if they spend time in two different households. Texting your kid in math class to let him know he forgot his lunch is NOT necessary, and is a distraction he doesn’t need. Having a phone does not mean they have to have a Smartphone. My three daughters each got their first phones in 7th grade (mainly because of arrangements for after school activities.) They had flip phones with a texting limit and no internet, and they weren’t scarred for life.

    By high school, they had graduated to Smartphones, with the appropriate discussions on proper use and the understanding that the phones were “ours” and could be taken back at our discretion. When one daughter had her phone in time-out for a month, believe me, it made an impression on all of them. Our family has a “no phones at the table” policy, as well as in the car, so we can have those meaningful interactions as a family (or just be silly!). Phones need to be seen as a privilege, not an inalienable right, and parents need to continue to parent the use of these devices.

  3. Gabriella Burman-Kaplan says:

    I keep telling my kids they’ll be last in their grades to get phones, and it’s a badge of honor (for me!). I’m grateful that my kids are surrounded by responsible adults who will help them if the need arises.

  4. Gabriella Burman-Kaplan says:

    PS – Here’s a link to a new ED Week article that’s very interesting and includes data from a survey of school principals about this very topic: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/04/18/school-principals-overwhelmingly-concerned-about-childrens-scree.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news1-rm&M=58456333&U=1387504

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