Balancing Social Media and Screen Time, by Dr. John Aldava

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Balancing Social Media and Screen Time, by Dr. John Aldava

by John Aldava, PhD.
Licensed Psychologist

Dr. John Aldava joins Summit Center after over 13 years at Kaiser Walnut Creek working on the Child & Adolescent Family team as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Aldava has past experience with Contra Costa County’s Children’s Mental Health department, and as an instructor at JFK University in graduate psychology. Dr. Aldava is now available to provide counseling and psychotherapy for children, adolescents, adults, and families at Summit Center Walnut Creek. Call (925) 939-7500 or email info@summitcenter.us to make an appointment.

A common issue raised in my office for children and teens is the modern day challenge of a screen time which may include gaming, computers, social media, tv, and movies. The real issue seems to be one of balance as the screens start to take up too much time and take away from important things like interacting with people (in real life), physical activity, sleep, and nutrition. I see screen time as being dessert. If you eat too much dessert, there is no room for dinner. Dessert is good idea, but we can’t live on dessert alone.

On the other hand, we need to acknowledge the world has changed and our current generation of children are being considered “digital natives” while we adults are considered “digital immigrants.” We know what it is like to live without technology – they don’t. Like any cultural divides of between first and second generation family members, major issues like screen time need to be navigated. Our kids often don’t understand why we are imposing our values and beliefs on them – especially when they think we are not attuned to their world. There is no right or wrong (in many cases). Right or wrong is subject to interpretation.

It is a parent’s role to set limitations and boundaries, yet many of these issues can be navigated though collaborative problem-solving. This approach acknowledges that both parents and children have values and needs that are important to them. Collaborative problem-solving seeks to find common ground, understanding, and form agreements that fit for both the parent and the child. Collaborative problem-solving It raises communication, allows the practice of important life skills, and models understanding and respect. In my years of practice using this approach with families, I have found that most challenges – even screen time – can be navigated successfully.