How much screen time is too much? Is it affecting my child’s mental health? How do I keep my kids safe while they’re on devices? How do I get them off their devices to engage with the world? These are issues parents faced before the pandemic, but are now magnified.
During a virtual Team Up event for parents on March 18, Sue Thotz and Rebecca Randall, veterans at Common Sense Media and parents themselves, answered these questions and discussed ways parents can manage the influence of technology on their children’s development, mental health and education.
Overall, they said how kids are using technology is more important than the amount of time they spend on it. They also assured parents not to feel guilty if their children’s screen time has increased during the pandemic.
“Times are tough now, and let’s face it, being a parent is complicated, even without the additional challenges associated with the pandemic,” Randall said. “And honestly, it may be causing more conflict with your kids, and that conflict itself could be even more detrimental than the media.”
Furthermore, screen time can be beneficial, Thotz said. For instance, social media allows teens to connect with others to ease their isolation, while gaming can offer opportunities to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. Watching TV together as a family can also be considered family time, rather than simply screen time.
Finding balance is key, and Randall offered advice based on her own experiences. “Other than my son’s Kindle, we have no devices in his room. And we keep our dining room table a device-free zone. So, when we’re eating meals, we have no tech, and I think that just helps keep things balanced when you think about it as activities rather than screen time.”
The following articles were shared during the presentation:
- Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health
- Common Sense Media Panel Discussion: Coping with COVID-19 – COVID-19 Research and Teens
- Plugged-In Parenting: How Parental Smartphone Use May Affect Kids
- Finding Balance in Our Digital Lives Worksheet
- Creating a Family Media Agreement Around Technology (template)
More resources for parents: