Monitoring Screen Time: Would You Use This?

Monitoring Screen Time: Would You Use This?

If your child has an Amazon Fire For Kids tablet, it might interest you to know that Amazon has launched two new features to help parents monitor screen time for kids.

The Daily Mail reports:

The first of the features, named Discussion Cards, monitors what children are doing on the tablet and then gives parents suggested points of discussion on the books their kids read and the videos they watch.

Parents can use these suggestions to start conversations with their children.

The second of the new features is Amazon's new Parental Dashboard which provides parents with daily activity reports of what their child is using the tablet for.

You have to sign up for Amazon's free 'Free Time' service to get the new features. Parents can then see up to 90 days' worth of their child's online activity, including information on what has been read or watched online and how long has been spent on e-books, videos, apps and online surfing.

I don't know a single parent who doesn't worry about whether their child has too much screen time and, as kids get older, this morphs into concern about what the kids are up to when they are online.

So anything which helps parents keep tabs on kids on screen time seems like a good thing to me. But, as ever, it's a topic which has been been causing some division in the Playpennies office. One of our team reckons parents shouldn't need to resort to these kind of parenting props.

"When did we become so removed from our kids that we needed virtual reports on what they're doing rather than knowing what they're doing – i.e actually parenting them?" she says. "I'm not saying we should be on top of what the kids are up to 24/7 but to me 'reports and discussion cards' seem like a cop out. Are we really that lazy as parents that we wouldn't want to find out more about what our kids are interested in but are happy to read from a pre-approved script?"

Harsh. Needless to say, I completely disagree. As the mother of pre-teen boys, I can confidently tell you that a time comes when kids naturally chat less to their mums about what they're doing online.

That's not to say they're necessarily doing anything they shouldn't, of course, but having access to these kind of tools would open up conversation that doesn't always flow as naturally as it once did when kids hit high school.

"What message does this send to our children? I think it smacks of I'm too busy to really be bothered knowing what you're up to or find out anything about it but I'm paying lip service by doing this. I actually think it's an insult to my child. Would I use cards to talk to my friend about her interests? Of course not," adds my fellow Playpennies team member.

I see her point but with three kids to take care of and two freelance businesses to run, I just can't constantly keep on top of the books and shows that my kids are into – and it changes like the wind from one week to the next. So anything which helps us stay connected and keeps the lines of communication open between my kids and I is a good thing.

So I resent the implication that I am a lazy parent for 'resorting' to features like this to keep connected with my children's interests online. Actually, I'm an engaged and interested parent with a lot going on in life, and I'd simply welcome a practical tool like this that creates an opportunity to get more involved with my kids' virtual worlds.

But what's your view? Do you think prompts like this are a great idea for helping parents keep conversations going with kids about time spent online?

Or do you share the view that we shouldn't need such things?

Leave us a comment below or come and join the conversation over on our Facebook page. And don't forget to vote in our poll.

TOPICS:   Parenting Tips


  • Chantele O.

    My daughter won't have a device like that so no need!

  • Fiona S.

    I think anything that encourages dialogue is great. At some point though when they are teens they need some privacy

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