Screen Time Sanity During the Coronavirus Pandemic: 3 Tips for Parents

Virtually all schools in the United States have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a lot of kids at home looking for things to do. For some of them, being stuck in the house is a dream come true, as they can play video games all day long. Some schools have shattered those dreams by giving them plenty of schoolwork to do on the computer. However, the reliance upon screens to do homework may be creating an even greater imbalance between screen time and other playtime activities. What can a parent do about screen time during the coronavirus pandemic? I have 3 tips for parents to keep their sanity about screens and digital media during the pandemic.

First, always keep in mind the idea of having a healthy and balanced Play Diet. It is been remarkable to me how many more people are going outside, exercising, going for walks, or riding their bikes, even in the cool weather we’ve had in Rhode Island over the past month. Encouraging kids to engage in some type of new creative opportunity such as doing artwork, building with Legos, or planting a garden is strongly recommended. Social play, while not face-to-face, is also to be encouraged. This might include online video games with their friends, using video chats to hang out and talk, or some type of very controlled interactions outdoors with their peers. Encouraging free play via unstructured time can lead to developing new interests or hobbies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Next, it is suggested that parents loosen the reins a bit. This is not the time for strict adherence to the regular routine, because there is no regular routine. I’m not suggesting that you allow free access to screens and technology but that if you were comfortable with an hour per day of recreational screen time in the past, you might allow two to three hours during the coronavirus pandemic. This could be helpful not only for you but also for relieving a child who is stressed about world events. If you ensure that most of this time is spent playing with their friends, it also allows them an opportunity to hang out with others and take their mind off of the stress of the world.

And finally, if you’re not sure how to navigate technology in the modern world, attend the Digital Sanity Summit.  My friends, Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster from ImpactADHD are hosting a free online conference for parents on how to manage kid’s screen time in normal times and during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to get free access to all of its program starting on March 30 and running until April 3, 2020. This free virtual summit will feature in-depth interviews with global experts on issues of parent controls, cyber safety, the use of technology to cultivate social relationships, life in the pandemic era, and more. 

I had the good fortune of being asked to speak at this conference. My session, titled The Role of Play, Video Games, and Learning, addresses how parents can leverage their children’s love of games and technology for learning executive-functioning and social-emotional learning skills. Other speakers will address concerns such as screen time and anxiety, using technology to cultivate social relationships, and stopping arguments about technology in the home.

I strongly encourage you to attend this free virtual summit. Sign up here and learn about what you can do to manage your child’s screen time during the coronavirus and when it passes.

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