As the mom who makes her living on the screen so to speak, it was fascinating to see how our lives changed when my daughter, Lucía, started caring about her screen time.
We had tried to use an iPad on long flights to keep her from wailing – but all to no avail. Then, at about 20 months, a switch flipped. And as a result Peppa Pig, Thomas the Train, and Sofia the First invaded our home.
These days, my now 2-and-a-half-year-old sees the struggle for screen time as the daily cross she bears. She asks. We deny. She asks again, and we finally acquiesce. It goes like that, day in and day out, in what to her seems anything but a pattern. Usually, she ends up with about 30 to 60 minutes of screen time a day.
I have friends that eschew all screen time for their kids. I applaud them, and I envy their dedication, but I don’t aspire to be them.
Screen time can help make the world a better place
Connecting technology with social good is a topic that I am extremely passionate about. It is why I wake up in the morning and why I go to bed at night. It is what I do in my daily work and what I do as my hobby.
Technology gives us handheld power. We can:
- Share our experiences with the world
- Learn about the experiences of others
- Ultimately change the world as a result
Screen time can connect us with family, friends, and strangers from all over the world, and it can also connect us with resources and news in real time. It can help us start or join another social movement for the greater good.
So I can see the value of Lucía FaceTiming her grandparents or even watching videos of herself and her friends at dance class.
A language component has also seeped in for us. We are a bilingual family living in South America, and her native English comes solely from me. But when I went away to work for a week and came home, I found out she had learned her colors in English – without nary a word from my lips.
I soon found the culprits: YouTube videos she had started to find on her own. Over the months, the same has happened with kids’ songs and other words in English that I have not taught her.
But my daughter’s screen time is not all mildly educational or helpful in forming healthy relationships with family far afield.
As she grows, and as her younger twin brothers grow too, things will change. I envision using the weekly calendar my parents used with me so they can schedule their own time – 3 hours a week however they want to spend it.
Hopefully they’ll come to understand that the greatest challenge of our day is to use the technology at our fingertips to make a positive difference in the world.
Claire Díaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, and tech innovator. She was an early employee at Twitter, and Fast Company named her as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. She has been called everything from “The Woman Who Got the Pope on Twitter” (Wired) to a “Force for Good” (Forbes) and one of the “Ten Most Generous in Social Media” (Fast Company). Claire is also known as the first to live-tweet her own child’s birth.