91 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Screen time with Max Davie, Games 4 Families
Today we’re speaking with Max Davie, a paediatrician in the UK who treats a lot of kids with ADHD or autism. He sees a lot of kids who use screens A LOT and wants to share some common-sense advice on screen time.
Max’s video we keep referring to: Should parents reduce screen time, and are board games a good alternative?
Why are screens a problem? ARE screens a problem?
Cases have been made that limiting screen time improves well-being; but you can actually spend 3+ hours playing video games before there is a noticeable decrease in well-being!
What is “screen time”, really? There are so many ways we interact with computers these days, some of which focus on the screen, and some of which are incidental to other experiences.
Let’s start with being clear: It is hard to tell the difference between beneficial vs. non-beneficial screen time. Don’t believe the hype. Some skills trained by educational games may transfer to other electronic environments, but most do not transfer to the real world. (Executive function / planning being a major example!)
Video games / etc. are VERY compelling activities for children (and adults, too). They begin to crave it and they don’t have the maturity to realize they are being pulled in – and even to take breaks for bodily functions!
Video games in particular are great at inducing a flow state – the psychological state of being “in the zone”, fully immersed and at peak performance. It’s very hard to pull out of that.
If we as parents are going to put restrictions in place, we need to give our kids some help with replacing video games. Don’t be scared of kids being bored. It is important for kids to have “nothing” time – but don’t pull them right out of a video game without a replacement.
Since a big problem with video games is the solitary nature, we ask Max for his thoughts on playing video games together. His take: better than playing alone, but still not great at building relationships.
Board game replacements
smashing things: Terror in Meeple City (formerly “Rampage”). Drop monsters onto cardboard buildings and beat up the other players’ meeples!
racing: Downforce (see our review). Scales well from 2-6 players.
Andrew waxes poetic about Through the Ages: A New story of Civilization as an empire-building game that feels like the video game Civilization.
Keys to evaluate screen time usage in your family
1) Are you in control of your children’s screen time?
2) Are you able to do the things your family finds important?
3) Is everyone getting enough sleep?
If you can answer “yes” to all of these, your family is in great shape with your screen time use.