Screen Time in Middle School: Get Ready For More of it.
A mom chats about technology and raising a son in a new culture.
As part of our Middle School Transitions series, we chatted with Ritu Maloo, mom of 8th grader, Saharsh, about the increasing use of technology in middle school and navigating a new culture.
These days, technology consumes every part of our lives, from video games at home to learning in the classroom. As children grow up, we see technology more and more integrated into their lives. How are parents supposed to support and monitor their kids when it comes to screen time? Middle school is a time of big transitions, where kids become tweens, school becomes multiple classrooms, and paper work becomes digital projects.
Ritu says, “When they are in elementary school, they are still using books and papers, but as soon as they come into middle school they get their own laptop. Then everything is studied on the laptop!” Middle schoolers are at a tender age and can be easily influenced by anything and everything, which is why it is important to be sensitive to their screen time. We talked with Ritu about her experience with screen time and other the major changes her son faced when starting middle school - such as the fact that they moved from India to the US just last year.
CI: What were some major changes you noticed as your child went from elementary school to middle school?
RM: He is really independent. We moved from India just last year, so it was a major transition for him coming from Indian school to American school. He was very excited and he transitioned with all these things really well. I saw that his thought process really changed. Now when he he takes part in family discussions, he gives his own views and ideas. When there is some conflict between me and my spouse or me and my daughter, he helps and resolves things very well. He does get a little stubborn when he wants his own freedom.
CI: What were some of your excitements as your son entered middle school?
RM: I was excited about him starting to learn in the American education system.
CI: What were some challenges you encountered after your child started middle school?
RM: I was really concerned about the culture change. Indian culture and American culture are very different. Initially I always asked him many questions like, “What is happening in your school?” When I started to meet his friends and his friends’ parents, I found out that here people are the same, just like us, and that they also just want their children to get a good education.
A major challenge was the screen time. When they are in elementary school, they are still using books and papers, but as soon as they come into middle school they get their own laptop and everything is studied on the laptop. Sometimes it was very annoying for me and I would ask ‘Why? Why are you always on the laptop? Why don’t you do the paperwork?” And my son would say, “No mom, there is nothing I can do on the paper. I get my homework on my laptop.’”
CI: When your son got to middle school, did you feel you needed to oversee his academics more or less?
RM: Initially I was watching to see if he was completing everything on time or not. I found out that his grades are going well. He just needs his independence about that and he can manage well. My son is really concerned about his grades so he always submits his work on time. I keep track of his grades, and when it falls I scold him and he quickly improves it. I guide him in his extracurricular activities and encouraged him to join clubs, like the science club, the robotics club, and the coding club.
CI: How did you help your child handle changes in their social life as they were entering middle school?
RM: I handled things in a friendly manner. I asked him how his social life is , and how his friends are, and he explained to me saying, “Mom, don’t think a lot. All the children are like me.” When I met his friends’ parents I was very comforted. I found that he was very comfortable and that he faced no problem making friends. He is very open-minded which is good about him.”
CI: What would be your best piece of advice to parents of incoming middle schoolers?
RM: Every parent is a little bit scared and excited when his or her son or daughter is going into middle school. I feel that we should give them a little freedom while also keeping track of what they are doing and their screen time. They think that are grown up but they are not. They are still in a tender age. We as parents need to help them a lot, in a friendly manner, so that they feel confident.