Coronavirus Ended the Screen-Time Debate. Screens Won.

The screen-time surrender isn’t just a San Francisco phenomenon.

Daniela Helitzer, a doctor of audiology in Boca Raton, Fla., said screen time used to be a constant debate among the parents in her town. She had some friends with toddlers who had never even seen a television turned on before this. Not anymore.

“We’ve all officially lost the battle,” said Dr. Helitzer, who has a 2- and a 3-year-old.

“I’ve accessed every educational app you can. I’ve used every online interactive worksheet I can find,” Dr. Helitzer said. “If he’s sitting on his iPad for two or three hours a day, I literally don’t even care. It’s like, ‘Use that screen as much as you can.’”

Covered in screens these past few weeks, I have noticed some positive changes. I FaceTime my friends so much that I know them better than I did before. I decided to learn what TikTok was, and I love it. I spend hours with my chin tucked into my chest and a weird smile on my face, watching. I’m using Duolingo, an app to learn languages.

Carolyn Guss, a mother of two and a vice president at PagerDuty, a cloud-computing company in San Francisco, was once very screen strict. Her children, 8 and 9 years old, did not own any devices. They could watch only very limited television. On the first day of quarantine home school, Ms. Guss wrote up a schedule geared at keeping them off screens.

“By Day 3, I had given up,” she said. “I think the fact that it rained on the first weekend broke my spirit.”

Suddenly she was giving them her phone. She was sitting them at laptops. They were double-devicing. It felt like defeat.

Then something surprising happened. They started doing pretty impressive stuff on those screens.

“My son taught himself iMovie, and now the kids make videos of themselves doing basic things — making Jell-O, shooting hoops — then cut it into pretty professional looking footage,” she said. “Then they screen share it with their friends on Zoom.

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