DHH @dhh Creator of Ruby on Rails, Founder & CTO at Basecamp, NYT best-selling author, and Le Mans 24h class-winning racing driver. Jul. 11, 2019 1 min read

Lest you think this recommendation was based in actual science, here’s the kicker: “If we don’t know that it’s good, and there’s any reason to believe it’s bad, why do it?”. These are recommendations based on a sentiment, not science. Also: 🙄.

Should kids sit in front of a TV or iPad all day, every day? No. But teaching them an authoritarian mindset with some arbitrary 1-hour rule is imo bound to be more risky for future well-being than playing games or watching Wildkratts.

It’s healthy to be skeptical about use of technology and to know what your kids are playing and watching. I wouldn’t leave my kids alone with, say, YouTube. But arbitrary limits like 1h/day that was just pulled out of thin air is not the healthy alternative.

Self-regulation is a far more important goal. And like the infamous rat/cocaine debunk study, kids are often thrilled to do something with their parents or friends that’s more exciting if offered. Going through an occasional binge to explore the novel is not a disaster.

I’ve seen more than a few kids trapped in wretched patterns of guilt as mommy and daddy enforce an authoritarian regime of restrictions on screen time or candy or whatever. Long-term psychological well-being is determine far more by your relationship to your parents than a game.

“But it’s for their own good!” is the most tired excuse for parents to assert their regime of arbitrary limits. What’s good for kids is having loving, flexible parents who let the kids do most of the guiding within only broad boundaries.

As a parent, you don’t have to approve of every minute of entertainment spent or every dietary choice made. It’s OK for kids to OD on a stupid show or a bag of candy once in a while. Your chief role is to OFFER, not force, compelling alternatives.

This is true not only for toddlers but beyond. I recommend the following books to get started: The Self-Driven Child, The Myth of the Spoiled Child, Punished by Rewards.


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