The Doctors have discussed many of the damaging effects of too much screen time on children yet today they share positive research to show some good when it comes to kids and technology. They are joined by parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa.
There is a famous study surrounding the concept of delayed gratification known as the Stanford marshmallow study. An experiment was conducted with preschoolers in the 1960s in which they were given a marshmallow and told they could eat it now or if they waited they could have two later. Only one-third of the kids were able to put it off. Those kids were followed out and years later had a lot of success as adults in terms of perseverance and ability to delay gratification.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra notes the common misconception that kids today are so instant gratification oriented that they would do worse in such a study, but apparently, they are doing better. In the 1980s the study was conducted and kids were able to wait a minute longer. In 2012, they were able to wait two minutes longer. Researchers felt technology may not just be associated with but also causal for some of those reasons children are able to display delayed gratification.
Dr. Gilboa explains in a lot of the games kids play the goal is to get to the next level. When they lose and have to play again they are learning perseverance. They are also learning more global issues because we are more connected than ever before, and they perhaps are getting better at seeing the bigger picture. Parenting has also changed overall from authoritarian to more of an authoritative method societally.
She notes that kids who know how to delay gratification have skills they will need and there is a way to teach that to kids. “If you’re thinking, my kid would totally grab the marshmallow and run, don’t feel like that’s necessarily a bad thing. Think about, 'Am I doing anything to teach them some perseverance? Am I giving them any skills?" Dr. Gilboa says. She explains you can actually use the screens to get them to wait for “the second marshmallow.” For example, tell your children they can have 15 minutes of screen time now, or, if they do some summer reading first, they can have a half hour of screen time after.
Dr. Gilboa compares screen time to nutrition. Not all screen time is good. Just like if a kid wanted to eat broccoli from 9 AM – 6 PM, she’d tell that kid to get up from the table! If it’s a violent game that isn’t contributing to building those perseverance skills, also don’t think the study’s findings will support your child playing those games. Moderation is key and parents need to monitor the content their kids are exposed to.