309: Kids & Screentime: What does the research say? // Dr. Katie Davis


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With summer break well underway–and in some parts of the country possibly already over!–maybe, like me, you’re a bit worried about your child’s screentime use. I always start the summer with a plan to limit the time we spend on devices, but by August, with long days at home with bored kids and long car trips and vacations where sometimes I just need a break to think, I default to giving my kids screentime much more often than I would like. And then I feel guilty about it. 

That’s why I am so excited to interview Dr. Katie Davis today all about what the research shows about kids and screentime. Dr. Davis is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington and the Director of the UW Digital Youth Lab. For nearly twenty years, she has been researching the impact of digital technologies on young people’s learning, development, and well-being. In her latest book, Technology’s Child: Digital Media’s Role in the Ages and Stages of Growing Up, she brings clarity to what we know about technology’s role in child development and provides guidance on how to help children of all ages make the most of their digital experiences. Dr. Davis holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in Human Development and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation with today’s expert guest.


3 Takeaways from Dr. Katie Davis on Kids and Screentime:

  1. Resist a “one size fits all” approach to kids and technology. Research involving large numbers of children is valuable because it can give us an overall impression of general trends in a population. However, no child is average. Making decisions based on population trends overlooks the individual, and you should consider your child’s unique temperament, personal history, social context, and family context when making decisions about technology.
  2. Ask yourself two questions when making decisions about your child’s tech use:  Is this technology self-directed, and is this technology community supported? The more self-directed a technology is, the better. These types of technologies give a child ample opportunities for agency, creativity, and development, and ideally don’t utilize “dark patterns” in their design to keep them mindlessly engaged.The more community-supported a technology is, the better. That might mean you learn about the tech and engage with them as they use it or reinforce positive themes from the tech in their day-to-day life, and it also might mean that the community they engage with as part of the technology is positive. 

  3. Embrace the “good enough” principle of digital parenting. We are not going to be perfect at managing our children’s tech use or our own tech use. We are going to make mistakes. We aren’t always going to be able to engage with them in a community-supported way, and they are going to be okay. And let me be clear: “Good enough” digital parenting is not about taking the easy way out or shirking parental responsibilities. It’s about figuring out what works for your particular family and situation and steering your kids towards positive technology experiences, while also knowing that not everything will be of equally high quality. 

>>>Are these tips from Dr. Davis on screentime helpful? Tell us in the comments below.




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Mentioned in the Episode


  • BetterHelp: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Use the code 3in30 to get 10% off your first month of online therapy.
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