In this photograph illustration a ten-year-old boy uses an Apple Ipad tablet computer on November 29, 2011 in Knutsford, United Kingdom.

As technology increasingly dominates the lives of children, there remains a dearth of conclusive evidence about best practices for parents. Last month, Facebook released Messenger Kids, sparking outrage among child health advocates. Currently, two Apple shareholders are pushing for the company to reprogram the iPhone and iPad to allow for greater parental controls. In “The Art of Screen Time” Anya Kamenetz pieces together scientific research and personal experience to help families navigate their relationships to screens in a digital world. She joins us to discuss the book’s major takeaways.

Related Links and Resources Mentioned on Air:

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz on How To Balance Kids’ Digital Diet 8 February,2018Michael Krasny

Anya Kamenetz, lead digital education correspondent, NPR; author, "The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life"


    I came from the generation of multiplication table and slide rule, with I advanced my education all the way to great happy time in physics, math, and nuclear engineering, including 13 years at U C Berkeley…..Very proud to have done that without lazy tools of the digital age.

  • Noelle

    At restaurants parents with toddlers use those little tablets for the kids that run videos. It makes them stay in their seats but I’m not sure if this is good for the kids in the long run. It used to be parents with toddlers rarely went out to restaurants, since the kids are known to be fidgetty.

    • Robert Thomas

      A while back, I was having lunch at a Sweet Tomatoes restaurant and sat across from a young couple in a booth, with a toddler pulled up to the table in a high chair. Both parents spent the meal staring at their phones. The child, on the other hand, was deprived of the benefit of an iPad. The little boy was mostly (verbally) silent but had developed a habit that was more effective in conveying his sheer disgust – he rhythmically kicked the underside of the table, hard, once a second or so. Plates and silverware jumped with each blow. I felt sorry for the kid. Strangely, I also had sympathy for his joyless parents. I guess you actually can’t judge people for a single incident, on what may have been a particularly trying day.

  • Robert Thomas

    “Currently, two Apple shareholders are pushing for the company to reprogram the iPhone and iPad to allow for greater parental controls.”

    During the 1960s and ’70s, my grandmother complained about the hours a day that my mother wasted on the telephone talking to neighbors and other friends and relatives. My parents complained about the time my siblings and I spent on the telephone in the afternoon and evening and the time we spent watching TV… a lot of bad TV, for sure. Grandma and my parents weren’t alone. These sorts of complaints were fodder for public commentators and social critics, year after year.

    During the period, no one EVER complained that Western Electric was responsible for our degenerate behavior; no one EVER complained about the moral turpitude of Philco or Zenith or Sylvania or Admiral or Emerson. And unlike today – when several carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint etc.) allow the use of handsets from several manufacturers – people were required BY LAW to only Western Electric telephones.

    Times change. With respect to the current controversy, maybe we should congratulate each other for our new-found ability to so completely relocate the responsibility for our own dissolute characters and the slovenliness of our youth onto external presumed bad actors: the manufacturers of generally useful and reliable and startlingly capable products. I guess Grandma and Grandpa will now cast their scorn similarly.

    I think it represents true evolution in Western thought.

    • William – SF

      Disengaging from parental responsibilities, to degrees profound and trivial, teaches children to understand their parents as unreliable. Parenting is a daunting responsibility. To be entertained and to have fun as a child is natural. To blame others for their potential conflicts is silly.

  • Robert Thomas

    What’s a “digital correspondent”?

    • Noelle

      digital education correspondent. reporter for the latest educational tools that are high tech?

      • Robert Thomas

        “Digital [x]” just seems a strange construction, to a person who’s spent a few decades designing and building both digital and analog systems – where we routinely intermingle what we call the analog and digital domains – especially when listening to such a person speak over a supremely analog medium (FM radio) with a purely analog receiver with the benefit of a completely analog transducer (a loudspeaker). I perceive it with an analog brain. Are there any analog correspondents?

  • Noelle

    Everyone should not use screens before bed. Epidemic of sleep deprivation in the US.

  • Kate Stevenson

    I wonder if those last two male callers have ever been alone for 12 hours a day with toddlers or young children, with no breaks, no help, no shower. I used to use TV in later devices in small amounts just to get by. Easy for them to talk about zero screen time and “where are the parents?”

    • Robert Thomas

      He sounded a little impractical and puritanical.

  • Robert Thomas

    I applaud Ms Kamenetz for demurring on the whole blue-light thing and admitting that she didn’t have corroboration for it. It demonstrated an astonishing degree of restraint, for a journalist.

    There’s a lot of literature on this subject but the science is new (i.e. there’s a bare decade of it or so) and conclusions drawn about health effects are still easy to question. That doesn’t mean they’re not real. For example,

    “Blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans”
    Kathleen E. West et al.,
    Journal of Applied Physiology, March 1, 2011

  • Synnamin

    Wow. There were an amazing number of angry-sounding, sanctimonious guys calling in. Finally had to turn the radio off. I have a feeling they don’t have children.


Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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