Screentime remains one of the most controversial aspects of raising a child. But while many believe smartphones and iPad are detrimental to kid’s development, sociologist Ellis Cashmore has a decidedly different perspective, claiming that depriving a kid of access to technology is “tantamount to child abuse.”
“Imagine if parents stopped children reading, watching and conversing with other children, or playing educational games, drawing, colouring, dancing,” Cashmore, an honorary professor of sociology at Aston University and the author of the upcoming book Screen Society, told The Independent. “Kids do all these kind of things when engaged with screens. If parents prevent children pursuing these kind of activities offline, they would be accused of some form of abuse. They’d effectively be stunting the child’s development.”
To gather data about screen usage, Cashmore teamed up with researchers from Teesside University and the University of South Australia to survey 2,000 internet users about their online habits. Cashmore and his team concluded that “the risks to children are exaggerated and are actually superseded by the educational and social advantages.”
While he understands the concerns parents will have with such a statement, Cashmore said he believes that the risks with excessive screen time tend to be overexaggerated and argued that parents often ignore the educational and developmental benefits available in the digital age. He also argued that parents who ban screens are putting their child’s sociological development at risk.“Screens are part of their reality,” he said. “Depriving [kids] of the opportunity to mature is surely abusive.” Let the debate continue.