As families try to establish a new normal, balancing screen time for kids has become not only especially challenging, but more important than ever.
“It’s only natural that children will be spending more time on digital devices than usual these days in order complete school work, attend remote classes and communicate with friends and loved ones,” says Michele Havner, director of marketing at Eturi Corp., a company with a mission to empower parents to guide their children through a balanced use of technology. “Restrictions about screen may need to be rethought in many cases, but they should not be completely eliminated.”
Here are a few insights and tips that can help parents create sensible, effective screen use guidelines for their children during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Rethink Leisure Time: According to ReelGood.com data, the month of March saw a whopping 70 percent jump in weekday streaming of kids’ movies and television shows. While there may be more time on kids hands and fewer options of what to do with it, it’s important to emphasize alternative ways to relax and have fun so that kids are not spending all their waking hours looking at screens. Leisure time will ideally include a mix of physical activity, creative projects, board games, reading and more. All that extra down time around the house may also present some good opportunities to teach kids some practical life skills, like cooking, cleaning and budgeting.
- Prioritize Online Safety: Unfettered access to the internet and social media sites can put children at risk for a number of online threats. Parents should continue to ensure kids practice safe online habits, even as they begin to use their digital devices for more tasks throughout the day.
- Striking the Balance: Many parents are struggling to balance their own work with homeschooling and online safety. Luckily, there are tools that can offer assistance, such as OurPact, a screen time monitoring and scheduling app for parents from Eturi Corp. Among the app’s many capabilities is the ability for parents to monitor and manage what kids are doing online, create daily screen time allowances, set filters on browsers and block certain applications at certain times of day. To help parents navigate this rapidly-changing environment, the company is currently offering OurPact Premium, an upgrade to the service, for free for three months to new users. To learn more, OurPact.com.
- Check in: During your own free hours, spend some time checking in with your kids to see how they are coping with the current situation, how they are spending their free time and whether they are facing any struggles with remote learning.
Life has changed rapidly and significantly for families. And while this new normal includes a greater reliance on digital devices, parents can take steps to continue to ensure kids are striking a healthy balance.