Screen Time and Friends

Kara Powell | Mar 4, 2010

Last week, our nine year-old son started talking about American Idol. We don’t watch “A.I.” so I asked how he knew so much about it. He said his friends at school watch it and talk about it. I asked him if he wanted to start watching it. He replied, “Not really, but every once in a while I wish I could talk with my friends about it.” But ever the optimist, my son added, “But I can talk with them about other stuff…like sports” (did I mention he was a nine year-old boy?).

Yesterday, Brad Griffin, one of my fantastic FYI coworkers, passed along some related research conducted in New Zealand about screen time and its effects on peer and parental relationships. I know some parents let their kids watch certain TV shows and play certain video games so that they can talk with their friends about it. According to this research, even taking this into account, kids who have more screen time have lower quality relationships with peers and parents.

I’m not “anti” TV or gaming, but I’m certainly not a big fan of either. A small amount (i.e., a bit of “A.I.” here and there) is fine, but this research is important for leaders and parents to keep in mind.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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