Nowadays, around 3 billion people are in lockdown all around the globe. That means most of the students are cut off from their schools and must attend online classes. It is no wonder that in such circumstances, both children and their parents are connecting to the outside world through screens more willingly. It is generally a positive thing that we can socialize, study, stay in touch with our family and friends, and have fun thanks to our electronic devices and the Internet. However, many parents are worried about the harmful effects of excessive screen time on their children, and they look for advice on related websites, such as parentcenternetwork.org.
We have prepared some tips that may be useful in controlling your kids’ daily screen time. We hope they will be helpful to you!
Find the Right Balance Between Screen Time and Offline Activities
It is widely known that children learn most effectively when conversations or other interactions with their parents, grandparents, or siblings are involved. Such “serve and return” or back-and-forth exchanges between kids and their family function as the building elements in the brain development of the little ones. During the pandemic, do your best to balance the screen-time with plentiful serve-and-return interactions that will be beneficial for your children’s growth.
Obviously, screen time limitations can be extended during the lockdown, but it does not mean parents should put all the rules away. It may be an excellent idea to come up with a schedule of online and offline activities, such as reading, drawing, coloring, dancing, sports, singing, board or card games, playing with toys, etc. For your child not to feel lonely, involve in as many of those activities as you can. Also, while preparing the schedule, try to keep at least an hour of device-free time before bedtime because screen use can have adverse effects on children’s duration and quality of sleep.
Choose Beneficial Content
Screen time can be beneficial for your kids if you choose high-quality educational content. Well-made programs are usually more successful in adapting their message to the needs of young kids. For example, it should have a coherent storyline, so that it could be engaging and fun to watch. What is more, educational programs tend to label objects and have their characters speaking directly to the little viewers, which can help kids to acquire new words and sounds.
However, scientists have shown that in the case of children under the age of two, learning from screens is not very effective. For this reason, it may be better to spend the device-use time on video chatting with friends and relatives, with just short bouts of screen watching (around 15 minutes).
Make an Example of Healthy Device Habits
During the pandemic, you could be more involved in following the news and social media than normally. Also, it may be a tempting time to catch up with all your favorite series or video games. As a result, you might end up spending more time in front of the computer, TV, or mobile devices, showing it to your child that there is nothing wrong with that. It is crucial to control your own media consumption because you are the primary model of healthy device habits to your kids.
Apart from that, remember that while checking the latest COVID-19 updates, you should try to avoid showing them to your children. Of course, you should talk to them about the pandemic but in a delicate way, while the media may show reports that can be too disturbing for them and increase their stress levels.
Engage in the screen time
There is research showing that when kids watch screens together with their caregivers, they are more likely to acquire new words and learn new things. It is because parents can direct children’s attention to particular content, discuss the program, or reinforce what has been learned with relating to the everyday activities (e.g., “That’s a small bird!”).
Also, while watching something together, you can socialize with your kid and make a stronger bond between you two. You can also try asking them engaging questions, such as “What was character X doing today?” or “Do you think character Y did the right thing?”. By discussing the plot of a cartoon, a child can be mentally stimulated and may develop their skills of argumentation.
Use the Screens to Connect with Other People
Social connection is crucial for kids, and it is one of the healthiest ways to use the screens. Pediatric guidelines say we should encourage children to use video calls to contact their friends and family so that they could feel less isolated and lonely. You can even try asking the individual on the call to engage in some fun activities with your child, such as reading a story, dancing, or singing.
All in all, screen time can be extended during the pandemic, but not left totally without any control. Apart from learning online, children may need to spend their free time and stay in touch with others with the use of electronic devices. If you help them reach a balance between that and the offline activities, it can be beneficial in reducing the stress and sadness associated with the lockdown.
Paulina is an experienced and passionate content writer. She has majored in English Philology and then she started to turn her passion for writing into a profession. It makes her genuinely content to help people in solving problems with her thorough research. Apart from writing, she enjoys playing video games, reading books at the balcony, attending Bollywood dance classes, and spending time with her fiancee and their three cats.