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Digital Wellness Lab gives insight into how technology is impacting kids

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Posted at 1:23 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 16:29:26-04

At the start of the pandemic, when it came to screen time, the message was pretty much to do what you need to do to save your sanity. Basically, don't worry about the kids watching a little more YouTube or Netflix after they do all their schoolwork online.

Now, experts in the field are providing a new unbiased picture of screen time, the pros and cons.

“We've done a lot of good research over the years and it doesn't get to, you know, the living rooms of America. It doesn't get to them moms and dads and teachers and clinicians frankly, who are interfacing with the kids,” said Dr. Michael Rich.

Dr. Rich is the founder of the Digital Wellness Lab out of the Boston Children's Hospital. It's sort of a guide by age development of research on various screens and how they impact children.

Dr. Rich says what's most important isn't how long, but what kids are using screens for.

“You don't want to be actively on social media while your mom is talking to you right, or mom shouldn't be actively on social media while you're she's talking to you,” said Dr. Rich.

The Digital Wellness Lab found most parents felt remote learning went pretty well and some were more engaged with their child's education. But what has Dr. Rich concerned is children's social and emotional learning.

“So, what's happened is the kids have gone to Roblox and Minecraft and Fortnight, not as games, but as hanging out with their friends and that's how they describe it, so this is where they're getting their social, emotional guidance and in it's unmonitored. It's on supervised. It's undirected. Now, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just that it represents an opportunity not taken,” said Dr. Rich.

You can find resources and guidance on devices and their usage at DigitalWellnessLab.org. There's even a live web chat Thursday evening on healthy screen time.