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How much screen time is too much in the era of COVID-19? Parents all around the world are asking themselves this question, as their kids spend every waking hour watching TikToks and playing video games on their devices. Even prior to the pandemic, parents worried about the numerous hours their children spent online. COVID-19 has only intensified their concern, as screens have become ever-present in the absence of in-person schooling and playdates. Parents are fighting to find a balance between supporting their children’s educational needs and social needs during this time. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are an easy way to feel connected to others and avoid isolation in times like these, however, achieving a healthy balance is crucial. In this blog, we will answer common questions and provide you with information to better manage screen time for kids during COVID-19.
What do the experts say?
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that parents place consistent limits on screen time for kids. However, these guidelines were not developed with a pandemic in mind. Screen time limits are more so about the quality of content kids are exposed to and the valuable activities kids miss out on due to technological devices. In other words, children should be socializing with peers, completing school-related tasks, or helping out around the house rather than spending countless hours playing video games independently. Given the many lifestyle changes we have been forced to make in the era of COVID-19, the alternatives to screen time are slim to none. The takeaway is: although screen time should not consume every waking hour of a child’s day, increased screen time during times like these are acceptable and expected.
Can screen time be a positive component of daily life in this pandemic?
Absolutely. Technology is a resourceful means of communication. Connecting with others online can help you avoid feeling isolated. Feeling connected with others during a national pandemic is important, as it can significantly improve your mental health during times like these. So, cut yourself some slack! As a parent, you are doing the best you can for your child. Allowing more screen time than normal is an acceptable alternative to the face-to-face communication children are missing out on at this time. In fact, brands are utilizing technology to spread COVID-19 awareness with influencer marketing! You can learn more about the many ways brands are making positive impacts in the community through the use of technology in our blog on how brands are spreading awareness.
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How can I better manage screen time for my child?
Here are a few tips to help you better manage your child’s screen time:
- Set time limits
- Take hourly breaks
- Incorporate “social screen time”
- Introduce activities into your routine that do not involve technology
- Ensure your child is practicing internet safety
Of these many tips and tricks, the takeaway is as follows: it is okay to have increased screen time during the era of COVID-19, with balance. Setting time limits and taking breaks from the screen can help you better manage the harmful effects technology can have. From a social standpoint, incorporating screen time that involved communicating with peers is crucial. Given that your child is missing out on socialization due to school closure, connecting with others over the internet is a great alternative. However, be sure to educate your child on how to practice internet safety, as the internet can be unsafe if not used carefully.
Furthermore, you can encourage your children to practice social distancing by showing them famous stars and influencers that are setting an example for our community. And last but most certainly not least, ask yourself, “What else can I incorporate into my child’s daily routine that does not involve a technological device?” Some fun and educational at-home activities you and your child can do include making a garden, baking, doing a science experiment, etc. Thankfully, Amazon Prime is just a click away, you do not even need to leave your home to access some activities and alternatives to technology! Have you tried everything? Check out a few activities your favorite Instagrammers are doing during quarantine.
Go easy on yourself! Everyone is struggling to embrace this new “norm” that is COVID-19. If screen time is your child’s escape from this stressful time, it is okay to allow more screen time than you normally would. In fact, Zoom may be changing the way we interact. Our lives are so chaotic and busy we often distract ourselves from feeling bored, spending time with loved ones, or doing the activities we typically do not have time for. Allow yourself and your family to embrace the boredom and make the most of your free time! Finding new and meaningful ways to spend your time can serve as a valuable lesson for kids.