As the Squish App is about to be launched, I’ve been trying my best to become informed on the latest parenting research out there. I am often asked how do I KNOW the best practices for screen time? And my simple answer has always been, it depends on your child.
I was privileged this week to attend a lecture at Rockefeller University given by Paul Bloom, Ph.D (author of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil) called “The Origins of Morality: How Biology and Culture Shape Us”. It was an interesting discussion and Dr. Bloom displayed a lively slideshow discussing his research with babies and children. He and his team ran a number of tests to try and understand how much of morality is with us when we are born and how much we learn in those early years.
There were a lot of details and a lot of time put into these tests and research, but in a nutshell the answer is about 50%. Dr. Bloom concluded that we are born with 50% of the ability to discern right from wrong and the other 50% of our brains learn from our environment. As a parent it was exciting because wow, 50% of my children’s brains came hardwired to be good citizens of the world! But as I thought about it a little bit longer, wow,1⁄2 of their brains’ moral compasses developed under my watch. An instant slideshow of all of my mothering mistakes began to race through my brain…terrifying. That’s a lot of pressure on a parent.
I admit I kind of wanted to leave at this point but looked over at the friend I had come with and she was contentedly listening. So I put my attention back on Dr. Bloom just as the question and answer part of the lecture began. And this is the part that I really liked. Because what happened next was such a beautiful example of the fact that parenting isn’t a science.
A mother raised her hand and asked something about how she should help her child through a bullying situation at school. Dr. Bloom and his colleagues on stage were thrown. They had done all of this amazing research (years of it!), but this was parenting advice. The more they didn’t answer her question, the more specific (and desperate) the woman became.
Finally Dr. Bloom threw up his hands and said “I don’t know!” Then he went on to talk about how in some areas of the country, a child is bullied and he becomes indignant and works through the channels of the school to have the other child punished. In other areas if a child gets punched in the face, he punches back twice as hard so the bully will know not to mess with him.
And then Dr. Bloom placed his hand on his chest and said, “A parent just has to use their instinct.”
And there it was. The breath I was holding came out in a woosh. I was using my instincts this whole time. I was good. My kids were fine.
There is so much out there that we can read or hear that tells us we’re not doing enough, we’re overdoing or we’re doing it wrong. My advice is FORGET IT. Follow your instincts. That’s the best guide to parenting you will ever find.
So when you make the decision of how much screen time is too much or what is or isn’t appropriate. Yes, sure, do a little research, but in the end follow your gut. Only you can make the best decisions for your family.
This reaffirms our belief that the Squish App is something for a family to manage on its own. There is good research out there that can help guide you, but when you come to our Squish settings page:
Remember it’s your instincts that matter most here. Whether it’s their Daily Time Limit, the time in the evening that you want a device turned off (Bedtime Lock) or that you simply want them off NOW (Lock Device Now), listen to your gut and Happy Squishing!