Many parents and some kids have finally had it with screen time during the quarantine and want to put an end to all screen time. So, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for you if you want to stop your kids’ screen time:
Turn off your electricity. This one is easy. Call the electric company and tell them you don’t need it anymore. Or don’t pay your bill for a few months.
Go back to nature – all the way. Live in a cave or a mountain top in the Himalayas. Live totally off the grid or in your front yard in a tent.
Find a time machine. Return to the 18th century. Maybe you’ll have electric lights so your kids can read at night.
Allow only 1970’s era technology in your home. Those old TV screens are bulky and have poor images. While your kids never have known a world without cell phones, it might open their eyes and ears to other things beyond screens.
Extend the quarantine in your home. Maybe you’ll all get SO sick of screen time that you’ll vow to never look at a screen again when the pandemic ends.
But do you truly want to keep your kids away from screens and technology? It sounds impossible, and may well be. Kids have been on screens more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s where they do their schoolwork and homework and how they communicate with their friends and extended family members. It’s also where they go when they are bored with just sitting around the house. And for some kids, it’s a dream come true – hours upon hours when they can play games or check their social media feeds.
However, other kids have found more or less unlimited screen time to be a source of angst. One top-notch 16-year-old student and expert on the teenage experience told me that after taking online classes for a couple of months, he doesn’t want to look at a computer for the rest of his life – this from a Minecraft prodigy who was paid to play at the age of 13. Other teens are sneaking out of their homes to see their friends in real life, as social media and video chats are not enough to satisfy their need to connect in person.
It’s difficult to know whether the extended quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic will significantly change the screen time habits of kids and adults beyond the quarantine. However, it’s clear that many parents have become concerned that loosening up screen time limits may cause long-term damage to their kids. I believe that the battle should not be about stopping your kids’ screen time but about making it more “digitally nutritious.” Rather than tossing out screens, influence what is done with screen time to be more beneficial.
Imagine a parallel between what children consume for their bodies and on a screen. Think about those who want to eat only carbohydrate-laden foods such as pasta, grilled cheese, or pizza, with an occasional yogurt (I had a son like that!). How might you make that diet a little healthier? Maybe you could begin by using whole-grain bread in the grilled cheese, adding a vegetable to the pizza, or trying different types of pasta such as tortellini and ravioli that have nutritious fillings. While even these changes might produce resistance in fussy eaters, your kids need to eat, and these modifications would be healthy for them. The same can be said for making your kids’ screen time “digitally nutritious.” Encouraging screen time that promotes learning, socializing, and creativity is one way to make screen time a healthier pursuit in your home.
To learn more about strategies to make screen time more “digitally nutritious,” read some of the following posts: