A few weeks ago, my eyes skimmed over a discussion some of our commenters were having about video game science – I can’t even remember whether it was about violence or addiction since we cover both issues – but one thing that stood out for me was that everyone seemed to be assuming that “screentime” was settled science. “Screentime,” people clearly still believe, is 1) an actual monolithic thing and 2) obviously bad in high doses. Obviously!
It startled me because in recent years I’ve seen plenty of pushback against the “screentime” idea; for example, just a couple of years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics admitted that lumping all screentime together was nonsensical and changed its guidelines to focus on reducing junk apps and programs, which really isn’t all that different from how my own parents treated TV and consoles back when I was a kid.
Ars Technica has a great article out this week summing up modern research on and the meta of the screentime issue, and it too is skeptical of the idea of shoving the millions of things we do on screens – communicate with friends and family, do homework, conduct research, go shopping, check the news, and yes, watch video and play games – into one “forbidden” box.
“We don’t talk about food time,” Oxford Internet Institute psychologist Andrew Przybylski tells the publication. “We don’t talk about paper time. But we do talk about screen time.” That, he argues, has been a mistake that leads to badly constructed experiments and panicky headlines, never mind how silly it is to act as if playing math games and chatting with grandma is the equivalent of watching Ninjago just because they all happen on a screen.
In case you’re about to say, “Ninjago isn’t making kids violent!” – you’re right. It’s just a dumb show with poor lessons. The article does dip into the lack of evidence for a causal relationship between aggression and gaming as well, though; you can read the whole piece on Ars.
The lumping of everything digital into a monolith is a framing that makes Oxford Internet Institute psychologist Andrew Przybylski groan. “We don’t talk about food time,” he points out. “We don’t talk about paper time. But we do talk about screen time.”https://t.co/8VisjuoRFr
— Andrew Przybylski (@ShuhBillSkee) October 17, 2018