With many kids out of school and spending more time at home, finding ways to fill the time is essential. As most parents know, it can be tempting to allow children to pass some of the extra hours using digital devices, however, research shows that managing screen time is vital for developing minds.
When used in moderation and under parental supervision, devices of course can be incredibly powerful learning and communication tools, and in many cases, they will be vital to kids’ continued academic progress while campuses are closed. However, people aren’t meant to spend all their time in front of screens, especially kids. Excessive screen time can lead to:
• Impaired mental and physical well-being.
• A loss of quality sleep.
• Impeded impulse control — for kids, impulse control is already hard enough!
• Poor communication skills (nonverbal cues are learned in face-to-face interaction, not through device-to-device communication).
• Addictive behaviors, and even violent tendencies.
• Vision problems.
• An increased risk of obesity.
With all that said, here are a few ways to manage your children’s screen time:
• Create a routine. Post a schedule each morning in a place that’s easy for kids to see. Include such items as doing chores, reading books, practicing an instrument, creating artwork, playing in the backyard and any other activity that will help ensure chunks of the day are spent away from screens doing something productive.
• Talk. Be extra proactive about starting conversations with your kids. Check in with them about progress on assigned homework. Ask them how they are feeling. Children are used to being surrounded by fellow students and teachers all day, so be sure to give them opportunities to practice social skills.
• Use tech tools. Every parent knows the struggle of limiting device use. But new tech tools can help you make rules that stick. One such tool is a parental control app called OurPact. To start, parents sign up for a free account. After pairing their child’s devices, they’re able to manage them remotely through at-a-touch blocking or automated schedules. Customizable, flexible and easy to use, it’s great for setting bedtime schedules, ensuring devices are being used safely and properly, and enjoying ping-free family meals. It works on Wi-Fi and all cellular connections, meaning you can manage access all the time. To learn more or download, visit OurPact.com.
You may be spending more time together as a family these days, which makes this a key opportunity to be a good role model when it comes to proper device use. For example, if you don’t want your child to use their device in the middle of dinner, hold yourself to the same rule.