Kids are spending more time on screens: Why experts say that’s not a bad thing

MADISON, Wis.– Students are officially on summer break after a hectic few months of online learning and a ‘new normal’ that’s led to a spike in screen time. But as it turns out, that might not be so bad after all.

Parents often hear about the negative effects of screen time on kids. Now, many experts are sharing its benefits.

Child psychiatrists say young kids can learn their letters, numbers, colors, and shapes through YouTube videos. These videos can be especially effective for children with autism.

They say screen time also provides a place for kids to connect with each other, which they often aren’t able to do in-person right now, as well as a way to keep in touch with far-away family and friends.

Psychiatrists agree now is the perfect time for kids to experiment with Skype, Facetime, Zoom, or the Facebook Messenger Kids app, and improve their ability to communicate through computers. They say these skills will benefit kids post-pandemic and far into the future.

It’s okay for kids to use their screen time for fun, too. This is a stressful time for everyone, kids included, and child psychiatrists say social interactions are a great way to ease some of that. Psychiatrists say video games allow kids to connect with their friends in a unique way: through collaboration and competition around a shared activity.

Video games can help kids become more social. One study found that gaming can lead to kids having more friends and being more willing to talk to others, and another found that gaming can make kids more inclined to help other people. Researchers have also found that children who are socially engaged while playing video games are more likely to become civically engaged as adults.

Overall, psychiatrists agree that children can create and sustain real friendships, deep human connection, through online play.