Adding up ScreenTime: Does Meditation App Count?

A reader wants to exclude her meditation app from the count of how much time she spends online…

Can you subtract yoga/meditation/”me” time?

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I plan to set a good example for my teens and show them how to monitor their screentime. I have begun with an app that reports my total time spent online each Sunday. My issue is that I do guided meditation through a phone app. It’s at least a half-hour daily and that is bulking up my screen time. Do I have to count the time spent with the meditation app? Marnie, Newton

Dear Marnie: First of all, accolades for tracking your screen time and for helping your children do the same thing. Readers will find links to these tracking apps on the DearSmartphone resource page. Apparently, there is no way to exclude an app and even Google navigation, say used during a car commute, gets counted. The good news is that the app records your usage in granular detail, so when you talk about it with your kids, you can show them the average time you spend by category: for example, social media, meditation, shopping, and navigation. And, you can watch their usage as well. Muse onward!

Kid’s Weekly Allowance Cash or Digital?

Should parents give kids a digital allowance? Rock, Paper, Phone!

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My children, ages 5 and 10 each get a weekly allowance for doing chores. The ten year old got a phone this year and asked me to put his amount, $10.00 per week, on a Venmo account. What do you think? Jaycee, Quincy

Dear Jaycee: That’s an interesting question. For readers who don’t know, Venmo is a popular app, one of many, that securely transfers digital payments between people, in lieu of paper money.

Your children will grow up in a world where digital payments will become the standard. But for now, I have two reservations about the digital allowance.

Buyers display less fiscal management and spend more when they use digital payments/ credit cards. Parents need to show their children how to save money, as well as spend it. Second, giving your child money to spend online will encourage him to be online more often. Since your child is only ten, it’s vital to monitor both his time and spending online.

Ipads in Library?

Taking kids to library…where they play on Ipads!

Ipads in Public Library (Nashua, NH) (2013)

Dear Ms. Smartphone: Writing on behalf of my daughter. She questions why I take my grandchildren to the library every week, since they only play with the Ipads in the kid’s room. I suppose those Ipads are loaded with age-appropriate games and reading. When they do this, it gives me time to browse the shelves. Mora, Lexington

Dear Mora: It’s a generational thing- you and I may not quite get it. The skills for reading well and remembering content on digital media may be different than the skills for reading well and remembering content in print.

Many educators see the need to offer both. Check out this older podcast from Julie Coiro.I like the point that good readers and experienced gamers may differ in their reading preferences.

Here is a more recent story compiled by KQED radio. This Anaheim teacher is developing cognitive strategies that help to deepen reading comprehension (online?). We are at the infancy of our understanding the differences. Meanwhile, enjoy your weekly visit and encourage the grandkids to check out reading books, just like you do!