Screening screen time

“Can we discourage teachers from asking for iPads for five-year-olds?” a fellow board member asked.

She and I serve together with a local education group that raises money for public schools.

Several heads nodded in agreement with the spirit of the question.

It’s the same spirit that cringes when we see a two-year-old staring at a movie on a cell phone. Such scenes prompt “no wonder” moments, as in, “No wonder our society is struggling.”

Though the original cathode ray tube screens were introduced decades ago, the last two decades have seen exponential growth in screen numbers.

With their declining cost and and inclining definition, we usually can’t look without seeing a screen of some size, shape or pixelation.

For example, consider a modern-day office visit:

  1. A sign-in clipboard? Nah, here’s a tablet to register on.

  2. A piece of fine artwork for the wall? Forget about it. We’ll display upcoming promotions on a jumbo flatscreen.

  3. A magazine for you, ma’am? No, thank you. I have some texts to respond to and some Wayfair ads to peruse.

The ubiquity of screens has introduced messaging that’s full of emoticons and extreme abbreviations.

An in-person chat with my fourteen-year-old revealed key truncations that every Gen-Xer and beyond needs to know.

Dad to son: “Can you give me some abbreviations you use in your text message chats?”

Son: “Do you mean shortcuts?”

Dad: “Yes, I meant shortcuts. Thank you for reducing my syllable count by sixty per cent.”

Son: “Sure, Dad.”

  1. wyd –  “What are you doing?” Warning, if the answer to this question is something exciting, it may lead to…

  2. fomo – “Fear of missing out”

  3. wbu – “What about you?” as in “I’m going to the county fair. What about you?”

  4. nvmd – “Nevermind”

  5. idk – “I don’t know”

  6. rly – “Really?”

  7. fr tho – “For real, though” as in “no joke”

  8. tmr – “Tomorrow”

  9. lol – “Laughing out loud;” this trunc hangs on after many years but smartphones now often convert it to a smiley face emoji with tears streaming down.

Of course, you don’t have emojis if you have a flip phone. A local dad purchased his middle schooler one recently.

“I don’t think she takes it out much,” he projected. “It’s more for my convenience than for her entertainment.”

There’s a novel idea: An adult acting like one.

If there was ever a time for adults to play adults, it’s now. If I told you things some middle schoolers do with their electronic devices, it would make your heart skip a beat, if it didn’t break first.

Kids need restrictions. Foregoing them is parental malpractice. Unabated access to Internet-enabled apps will sour naivete in no time.

Non-technical boundaries help, too, such as no screens in non-public places, particularly bedrooms.

Parents shouldn’t try to be GOATs (greatest of all time) and let kids make the rules.

Parents should offer the kind of personal engagement that makes screens, and the conversations on them, a little less mesmerizing.

With strong relationships and communication, kids won’t need this shortcut: psos – “Parent standing over shoulder.”

Follow Kevin Thompson at



1 Response to “Screening screen time”

  1. 1 Bob Imler October 15, 2017 at 12:21


    You hit it out of the ballpark with this column. I am sharing throughout my network!!!!!!!!!!

    Very thought provoking and insightful. At my age, I don’t have a presence on social media; I plan on keeping it that way. Some time when we have a chance to cross paths again, I will share an interesting story with you regarding our methods of modern communication. Keep up the good work, you are an inspiration to many of us in the community.

    Best regards,

    Bob Imler

Comments are currently closed.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 198 other followers



%d bloggers like this: