No one can argue that the pandemic has been a challenging season for everyone. Perhaps the most affected group has been parents who are managing a household, attempting to work, quite possibly from home, and facilitating distance learning for their child(ren). Serving in all three of these roles simultaneously is an impossible ask under normal circumstances, and what we’re going through now is anything but. What can be even more frustrating is all of the negative messaging surrounding screentime when it seems like such an inevitability for kids right now. Families, if no one has told you this yet: DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Screentime research is a lot more nuanced than “all screentime = bad.” Instead of beating yourself up about it, consider healthy screentime ideas. More research is emerging about active vs passive screentime as well as other ways screentime is beneficial. Beyond this, our current situation is very challenging, and quite often there is no perfect decision.
Everything in moderation.
Most of the negative effects of screentime come from extreme volumes with no breaks for other activities. Help teach your children to take breaks to move around, rest their eyes, and spend time on tasks that aren’t as instantaneously gratifying. Most importantly, keep in mind the screentime habits you’re modeling. If possible, try to keep to the same rules you set for your children.
Perhaps most important to healthy screentime…
Learn the parental controls – and use them to control both the amount and type of screentime.
- Guided Access (iPad and iPhone) Instructions
- Digital Wellbeing (Google & Android)
- Parental Controls (Apple)
- Parental Controls (Google & Android)
- Screen Time (Apple)
Healthy Screentime App Ideas For Kids
- Use the Headspace app to meditate
- Practice typing skills
- Have your child take inventory of the kitchen and look up a recipe to cook
- Read a free ebook from the library
- Take portraits of siblings or pets and then use apps to edit them
- You can use the native photo apps on your device or look up a free app on the app store.
- Practice your digital art skills
- Play a tabletop role-playing game via video conference
- Practice email etiquette by writing to family and friends
- If watching a movie or a TV show, ask your child to present on what they watched. Depending on your child, this could be a written report, a PowerPoint presentation, fan fiction, or just answering comprehension questions. Get creative!
- Learn a language on Duolingo
- Go on a virtual tour of a National Park
- Do a yoga routine
- Use a list app to make a grocery list
- Make digital cards for family and friends
- Use a Pomodoro timer to help develop attention and persistence skills
- Practice handwriting using Writing Wizard
- Schedule a video call with family and friends
- Use the built-in camera to make a movie
- Watch a free art lesson online
- Ask your child for what creative ideas they can come up with for healthy screentime – you might be surprised!
I hope these ideas gave you some sparks for facilitating healthier screentime experiences during this challenging time. If you have any other great activities you’ve found, I would love to hear them! Above all else, please remember that you’re raising kids during a pandemic and that you’re doing great.