As students across the country carry on with virtual learning, many parents continue to deal with a difficult task: managing and regulating screen time. While screen time concerns are certainly not new, the pandemic and lockdowns pushed many to rethink their approach.
More than ever before, children have become reliant on their devices and digital spaces for entertainment, communication, and now, learning. In fact, children’s screen time jumped by 50 percent, with a majority spending around three times more hours of a day in front of a screen than they typically did pre-pandemic, according to Axios.
Many of us are familiar with the negative effects of excessive screen time, from sleep problems to behavioral issues. But it’s not all bad; some experts say that with moderation, active screen time use comes with benefits such as increasing children’s creativity and imagination and improving motor, coordination, and communication skills.
In the past, I’ve spoken at conferences, presented to school districts, and written about screen time in education. Now, similar to almost every other topic surrounding education, we are flying a totally new plane — one that we’re building mid-flight — because of the shift to virtual learning amid a pandemic.
To help educators and parents who are feeling overwhelmed during this time, I’ve put together a few tips to act as a guide for navigating screen time conversations during virtual learning. A few of these echo suggestions I’ve shared before, but I’ve made specific adaptations to keep this list fresh and relevant.
1. Remember that content is not created equally
The device is just a vessel that carries out the commands and the software that lives inside it. Parents should keep in mind that content is where discussions around screen time should begin.