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Making Space

I had been wondering about the effect of screen time on childhood development. Because of distance learning, my girls have shifted from using screens rarely to hours every day.

I had emailed one of my psychologist friends the question, “Isn’t all this screen time bad for developing little brains?” This is her area of research expertise, and I was curious about her opinion – even though I already had my own thoughts about it.  

She suggested we have a Zoom call to catch up and discuss my question.

A few minutes before the call, I settled into my office chair with a big cup of coffee.

We laughed and talked about life and our holiday plans. She asked about the girls’ school, and that brought me to my question about increased screen time. As she began to share some of the recent research (indicating an increase in screen time is okay as long as it’s not replacing active play or getting in the way of sleep), I quickly interjected with my own opinions, anecdotal evidence and reasons why I thought it was the worst.

My friend shook her head. “Listen to you,” she said with a laugh.

“See that giant, overflowing mug next to you?” she said. “Just like that mug, you’re already full of your own opinions about this topic. The only way we can have a good conversation about this is if you first make space for some new ideas.”

My face flushed. I mumbled an apology. Then, having forgotten the delicious mug of coffee was next to me and grateful for the reminder, I decided to take a sip. As I brought the mug to my lips, I noticed this simple action had led me to the first thing needed for listening and learning:

I had stopped talking.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.