According to a 2019 report by Common Sense Media, African American children have the highest rates of media use compared to their peers, with preschool-aged children spending an average of 5 hours and 55 minutes each day and African American teens spending an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes each day using media. This is a worrying trend, as excessive screen time can negatively affect children’s physical, social, and emotional development.
Moreover, a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in 2019 found that preschool-aged children from low-income and minority families, including African American children, are likelier to exceed recommended screen time limits than their higher-income and non-minority peers. This further highlights why parents, particularly those in lower-income and minority families, must be aware of their children’s screen time and set appropriate limits.
Big Tech Restrict Their Kids’ Electronics
Even Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, put limitations on his own children’s exposure to electronics because he was concerned. In a 2011 New York Times article, Jobs said that he had placed restrictions on his children’s use of technology because he wanted them to have a more balanced childhood, with opportunities for outdoor play and other activities that didn’t involve screens. Jobs also reportedly expressed concern about the addictive nature of technology and its potential to distract children from other important aspects of life.
Similarly, in a 2020 Business Insider article, former Google and Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt said that he had strict rules about his children’s use of screens, including no screen time during mealtimes and limited use of electronics in general. Schmidt cited concerns about the impact of technology on social interaction and face-to-face communication, as well as the potential for addiction and distraction.
”…African American children have the highest rates of media use compared to their peers…”
Other tech executives have expressed similar concerns about the potential negative effects of technology on children, such as the impact on mental health, sleep, and attention span. While technology can be a valuable tool for learning and communication, many of these executives seem to believe it’s important to set boundaries and limits around its use, especially for young children who are still developing their habits and routines.
What Can Parents Do?
When it comes to electronics and children, if big tech worries about addiction and mental health, it should raise some red flags for Black parents. African American parents need to be especially vigilant when it comes to managing their children’s screen time. Parents can set clear guidelines for screen time, limit screen time at bedtime, and encourage physical activities and social interactions. These strategies are particularly important for children who are spending more time in front of screens than recommended.
The National Black Child Development Institute offers resources and guidance for parents looking to manage their children’s screen time. These resources can be especially helpful for African American parents seeking guidance on managing their children’s technology use.
By being aware of the statistics and implementing appropriate strategies, parents can help ensure their children are developing healthy habits when it comes to technology use. Encouraging physical activities, social interactions, and other non-screen activities can also benefit your children’s overall well-being.
Here’s a table with age-appropriate screen time recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
These are just general guidelines, and families may need to adjust them based on their individual circumstances and values. The most important thing is to be mindful of how much time children are spending with screens and to ensure that they have a balance of different activities that promote learning, social interaction, and physical health.