Hey there, parents – this is just a note to say, don’t beat yourself up, we are all relying more on screens right now! No one is judging you, and you know best what your family needs to get through this. All you can do is give it your best shot, so here are some thoughts on the what, when, how, and who, to help you do that…
Healthy screen use is about balancing time, quality and buddies. Keep in mind what you already know about the impact of digital overload on YOUR kids, what is too much for them, what they should do more or less of, and how best to counter this and keep eyes and brains healthy, with exercise breaks, outdoor time, throwing in some offline activities and family time.
When kids unplug for a bit, they often find there is so much more to do and experience right now, that we don’t usually have time for. Get your kids to watch Josh’s fun explanation of what happens when their brain “flips out”, so they can better understand why they sometimes can’t handle being “switched off”.
Screen time can be very useful for quiet time, especially when parents need to rest or work! But do try and get your family to switch off tablets and phones an hour or two before bed – it really does help with a good night’s sleep. The only rule we are still strict with right now is to ban devices from bedrooms at night. Not negotiable!
Try to encourage screen use as a more conscious activity, rather than a zombified, all-day, endless black hole. We are all for screen time when it involves video chats with friends or family. Whatsapp chats, Messenger Kids or otherwise Zoom or Houseparty are good options if you help them to lock the app after they are in!
More conscious screen time rather than reduced screen time is probably all we can aim for right now, so give some thought to quality – is it interactive, educational and age-appropriate?
These are some innovative screen time ideas we’ve come across, and that we thought we’d try out with our own kids:
- A “drive-in” movie in the car (popcorn and smarties optional) – while parents have uninterrupted online meetings;
- Listening to a podcast or a book – there are many being read online by the authors themselves during lockdown;
- Creating art – again artists are offering daily tutorials to kids online;
- Learning a new skill online;
- Listening to or making digital music;
- Playing brain games like sudoku or interactive games like scrabble or monopoly;
- Digital photography and editing images;
- Creating videos or making movies.
Chats with friends and family are more important than ever, so try and set this up for younger kids, on a device that doesn’t keep interrupting your own work!
We’re not saying that we are for endless hours of screen time but our message to parents is to take some pressure off yourself right now and don’t worry too much … we’ll give you some tips on re-establishing normal rules, whenever it is that we get back to normality!