Does your family have more screen time these days? How do you feel about it?
The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and the social restrictions that followed have forced us to rethink many family habits and rules. What worked before the quarantine doesn’t necessarily work now.
The most relevant example? Screen time.
Who can stick to the experts’ recommendation of two hours per day when you’re indoors 24 hours a day? Adults and children spend more time online to read the news, connect with friends and family, work, learn, play video games and watch shows, or movies. Even to search for ideas for offline activities, you go online.
So, should we still count how many hours we are spending on screens? Should we question whether or not we are good parents if we let our kids use screens more than before?
Here are some insights to help you decide what’s best for your family and, hopefully, release the pressure around screen time, in case you feel it:
Instead of being concerned about how much time your family is exposed to screens, focus on how every member is engaging with them.
Devices have become essential in connecting us with the other people in these times of social distance. Some voices online say that, during this coronavirus outbreak, we have started to use the internet as intended: to bring us together, to encourage us to share resources and ideas, to call parents, grandparents and all those we care about more often.
The same goes for children. Maybe what counts is not the number of hours they spend in front of a screen, but the content they are watching. Are they learning something new while using the devices? Are they using apps to talk with friends? If yes, no need to worry you about leaving them in front of a screen while you video-conference with workmates. It’s just a phase we are going through. If there are things to be improved for protecting them and creating a safe online environment, now is the time.
Finding a balance between time spent working from home and the time spent with children is still important.
Coming up with a new routine for family, one adapted to the new reality, could help all family members. Anything from baking cookies, dancing, math, spelling, doing experiments – broken up with something fun or relaxing like time with the iPad or TV so that parents can work from home could be a good idea. But don’t be too strict with the schedule or tough on yourself. It’s ok just to take a break sometimes and accept, especially during these challenging times, that not everything can be planned.
Feeling as though something has been accomplished during an isolation period will be important for both you and your children. Your accomplishment, though, won’t have so much to do with screen time restrictions and homework assignments solved, but rather with how time is spent and how connections are strengthened.
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