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The Great Parents' Screen Time Debate: Which Side Are You On?

The Short of It

Parents' and kids' screen time is hotly debated these days, with everyone from average parents to the "first father" President Obama weighing in on the topic.

The Lowdown

During a news conference for his Connect Home initiative, which aims to bring Internet access to low-income communities, President Obama revealed that cell phones are banned from the First Family's dinner table, and his comments are striking a chord with moms and dads across the country who face similar issues with their kids.

"There's nothing wrong with every once in a while putting the technology aside and actually having a conversation, which is something I talk to Sasha and Malia about," the President said. "I always tell young people when I meet them, sometimes they have the phone out, and I'm standing right in front of them, and I got to tell them, 'Young man, put down that phone, shake the hand of your President, and then you can maybe can go back to taking pictures."

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece on, author Rachel Simmons, co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, defends parents who are on their smartphones, saying it doesn't make you a bad parent.

"Parenting a toddler occasionally feels like being marooned, and your phone is your only connection to the rest of the world," she wrote. "Thanks to the Internet, moms like me can now get Amy Schumer videos and Instagram to help us survive the monotony."

She argues experts, journalists and other parents should stop the cell-phone shaming: "All this finger wagging, well intentioned as it is, implies that parents—code moms—are merely vessels for their children and should attend to their every last need and feeling at the expense of all else."

The Upshot

While some studies show that kids of screen-addicted parents feel neglected, sometimes the use of technology is necessary and should even be embraced. How do you strike the right balance in your home?

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