Why screen time inhibits toddler development

Posted on: 02/14/19 10:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Where’s Nathan?

I just changed his diaper and plopped him in front of the TV… again.

Any theories why Nathan doesn’t walk yet?

It’s probably not a surprise to you to hear that if we plop our toddlers down in front of a screen it hurts their development. We’ve heard the arguments before. Too much screen time has negative effects all around. And some experts even push back and try to contest it.

But according to a new study from the University of Calgary, the results are pretty clear about the effects of screen time on young kids.

“Greater screen time at 24 months was associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months, and similarly, greater screen time at 36 months was associated with lower scores on developmental screening tests at 60 months.”

The element I find intriguing is why.

Why?

“A lot of the positive stimulation that helps kids with their physical and cognitive development comes from interactions with caregivers.”

There it is once again—the indisputable fact. Kids need face-to-face interactions with Mom and Dad.

This wasn’t the only reason why. Experts also noticed that inactive kids tended to not develop motor skills or hand-eye coordination (more reasons to discourage too much screen time). But the big reason kids were missing key developmental skills was because they missed out on crucial interaction with parents.

Do we really need an expert to tell us that our kids need our love and attention?

It’s the one element that everyone always seems to agree on, regardless of the study. Experts argue about the effects of entertainment media until they’re blue in the face (although I’ve never actually seen someone turn blue when arguing about entertainment media), but they’ll always all agree on this one conclusion. Interaction with Mom and Dad is crucial.

Maybe your kids aren’t toddlers anymore. Maybe they’re tweens or teens. Then quantity time matters even more.

Have you connected with your kids face to face this week?

Netflix’s “Sex Education”

Posted on: 01/9/19 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It premieres on Netflix in just two days, but it’s probably not what you think when you hear the words “sex education.”

In a world where many parents really struggle with how and when to engage their kids in “the talk”… Netflix is launching a show that once again (yes, they did the same thing with Big Mouth) is either addressing or exploiting—you decide—the subject that isn’t talked about much in most homes. But from the world’s perspective, of course.

Teen Vogue describes it as Big Mouth meets Degrassi and the trailer speaks volumes about what you can expect:

The interesting thing about sexually charged media is that the creators always claim they are just portraying a realistic glimpse of today’s youth culture. Occasionally I’ve seen films do this (remember Thirteen?), but most the time these types of entertainment media serve more as an influencer of how to behave than a representation of how kids are already behaving (something I address to teens in my The Teen’s Guide to Social Media and Mobile Devices).

A character in the show claims, “Everybody’s either thinking about shagging, about to shag, or actually shagging.”

Is that true?

Is there a chance that the pre-pubescent freshman who can’t stop playing Fortnite isn’t even curious about sex yet… or do we need to consider having these conversations a little earlier?

I guess that depends.

Do you want to be the one to tell your kids the truth about this subject, or would you rather wait until they hear the lies first?

So how can you engage your kids in conversation about this important topic?

For more help becoming your kids Go-To person about sex, take a peek at Jonathan’s books, More Than Just the Talk (for parents) and Sex Matters (for young people). Or Pre-order Jonathan’s newest book for guys, The Guy’s Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face.

on Canadian TV talking about bullying

Posted on: 11/21/18 1:56 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week Canadian TV show 100 Huntley Street aired a series of interviews with me about bullying, and how parents, teachers and youth workers can actually prevent it.

Here’s the two part interview…

PART I:

PART II: Continue reading “on Canadian TV talking about bullying” »

7 Facts Undercover Adults Discovered about Teenagers Today

Posted on: 03/5/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I love it when research discovers something we’ve been telling parents for years. And for the last few weeks A& E show Undercover High has been revealing an eye-opening peek to many parents about the reality of what’s truly going on in the lives of the high school just down the street from you (and one of these “uncover adults” is a youth pastor).

The show unveiled quite a few realities about teen culture- seven, in fact.

1. The biggest surprise for these undercover adults was how much social media and smartphones had changed high school culture completely… and for some of these young adults, high school was only 5 years ago Continue reading “7 Facts Undercover Adults Discovered about Teenagers Today” »

Engaging Young People with Stranger Things

Posted on: 10/24/17 6:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Young people love them some Netflix… and this week they’re especially buzzing about Stranger Things, because Season 2 will be premiering this Friday… and everybody’s talking about it!

That means literally millions of people won’t be going outdoors this weekend, because they will be at home binge-watching the entire season in one sitting! That also means that many are re-binging on Season One again this week to prep for the big premiere.

Did you know that we have free discussion starters for EVERY episode of Stranger Things on our Continue reading “Engaging Young People with Stranger Things” »

Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight

Posted on: 10/19/17 10:54 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Common Sense Media just released a brand new report about the evolution of media use by kids age eight and under.

Yes… eight and under!

If you found it difficult to believe that the average age today’s kids receive their first smartphone is 10 (yes… that’s just the average), then you’ll find it even more intriguing how much and what kinds of technology kids are using in the years prior.

I think parents are slowly realizing that kids are being inundated with entertainment media and technology at younger ages. In my parent workshops, churches no longer just market to Continue reading “Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight” »

New sexually explicit cartoon on Netflix

Posted on: 09/28/17 10:56 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The show is called Big Mouth, and it’s premiering on Netflix this weekend. It’s a cartoon about teenagers whose lives have been upended by the wonders and horrors of puberty.

For those who think today’s young people aren’t exposed to sexual messages and imagery… think again.

Take a peek at the trailer here: (and WARNING: This YouTube trailer is very sexually explicit and contains foul language… and yeah… it’s available on your kid’s phone.) Continue reading “New sexually explicit cartoon on Netflix” »

Stop dwelling on past mistakes

Posted on: 05/23/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This month I was interviewed by Host Maggie Johns on Canadian TV show 100 Huntley Street about my parenting mistakes… and what I’d do over.

The interview provides good news for parents. We’ve all made mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up, ask, “How can I learn from this? How can I make changes? Lets stop dwelling on the past and let’s look at the future.”

Here’s a six minute clip Continue reading “Stop dwelling on past mistakes” »

Why 13 Reasons Why

Posted on: 05/1/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Suicide, upskirt photos, social media, bullying… it’s almost as if someone posted a hidden camera in the hallways of the high school down your street. The realism is a little too close to home, and parents are beginning to worry.

Should our kids be watching this?

If you have teenagers, work with teenagers or even have crossed paths with a teenager in the last month, you probably have heard them talking about 13 Reasons Why. It’s the newest bingeable series from Netflix touching on everything teenager Continue reading “Why 13 Reasons Why” »

Engaging kids in conversations about “Stranger Things”

Posted on: 02/23/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m loving this new Netflix Discussion page!

Yeah! Using Stranger Things to discuss Luke Chapter 11. Whodathunkit?

A few months ago we announced a brand new resource on our TheSource4Parents.com page … our brand new Netflix Discussions page. The page gives parents ideas for dialoguing about what they watch with their kids on Netflix.

No, we don’t expect moms and dads to sit their kids down and Continue reading “Engaging kids in conversations about “Stranger Things”” »