The benefits of screen time

Amy McNeel

Is screen time always a bad thing? I guess that’s a subjective question in itself, but from the majority of news stations, parents and professionals, the answer seems to be overwhelmingly “yes.” We have all heard the dangers of screen time. At doctors’ offices, flyers with the negative effects of overexposure are handed out in excess, a somewhat hopeless attempt to scare children away from video games and into the backyard. I can look up “pros and cons of screen time” on Google and find a plethora of cons, from obesity and violence to depression and eye strain. Pros, however, are less abundant. 

This research made me wonder why screen time has such a negative connotation. Are these adults and professionals who write about the horrific effects of electronic media trying to tell me that they never sit down to watch a movie or look at their phones? Yes, screens have negative health and lifestyle effects, but that doesn’t stop anyone from partaking in such activities. While screen time can and does have its negatives, I believe that it also has benefits. 

For many people, video games, movies, television shows, etc., are like therapy. When you are stressed or anxious, folding yourself into a blanket and watching your favorite television show can be the most relaxing thing in the world—this I know from experience. The thing is, everyone deals with personal issues and bad days in different ways, so why look down upon those who use screen time to wind down? Some people read to de-stress, some people draw in coloring books and some people sit in front of a television screen. Really, what’s the difference? 

Furthermore, screen time provides an opportunity for social fun and bonding. I absolutely love family movie nights, and there’s nothing like playing Mario Kart or watching a funny movie with friends. When you’re surrounded by loved ones, screen time can be a relaxing way to connect: You can talk about the show; laugh together; and go through the emotional roller coasters of sad, funny, hopeless and powerful films. 

To go along with this idea of family bonding, kids can actually benefit and learn from TV shows, movies and games, especially when they watch with their parents. Electronic media has a lot of educational value and can teach kids a lot about the world, different cultures, etc. And, while they watch with their parents, kids can engage in discussions with them and develop a deeper understanding of what they are watching.

Overall, I think that screen time has positives that are largely overlooked. Of course, there are negatives to screen time, and exposure should be had in moderation. However, today, screen time is just a part of life and shouldn’t have such a negative connotation. Everyone spends time looking at screens, but because of the negative stigma, people don’t talk much about their screen time for fear that they will look bad or be judged by others. Electronic media isn’t as bad as pretentious people like to portray it. So, if you want to watch a movie, go for it. If you want to binge-watch Netflix, go for it. Your screen time is yours to be had.