In the last few weeks, articles have been swirling online about Silicon Valley parents banning all screen time for their children, including this New York Times article from October 26. (Blocked by the paywall? Click here.) Some parents who work in the tech industry have decided that the products they create are not safe for children, even in small doses--even if the child is simply observing, not actually using the device.
So, where does the Oakland Public Library stand on screens for kids?
First and foremost, we believe all parents want the best outcomes for their children, and we support families choosing for their own children whether--and how much--they use smartphones, tablets, and computers, or watch TV. We are happy to help patrons seeking to develop a healthy media plan for their children, and can help you find research or write a Family Media Plan. We also offer these sample rules for online safety for parents and children to use together.
OPL offers free and open access to the internet for all patrons, and our Internet Policy applies to patrons of any age. OPL offers unfiltered internet access, and each cardholder may use a computer in one of our sites for up to one hour per day. OPL staff do not supervise children in the library, and that includes internet use.
If you're looking for more research about safe and healthy screen use for kids, we recommend the Media and Communication Toolkit from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP's current recommendations do include setting limits for children around screen use; however, they also recommend using educational apps as a family, co-viewing age-appropriate videos, video chatting with loved ones, and other types of media use for families who choose to do so. See their full report and recommendations here.