From remote learning to family zoom gatherings, kids spend more time on digital devices than ever before. But should this be a cause for concern? How can you better manage your child’s screen time? Here are some things to think about.
Recognise different uses for devices
As schools shift towards online learning, kids use their own devices to connect and communicate with their teachers and peers. While the Internet exposes your child to an array of accessible resources, it is also home to many distractions, such as social media and online video games. With that, it’s important to learn how to manage this double-edged sword properly!
Since it can be easy to get carried away with a few stray clicks, regulating your child’s screen time is crucial. As screen time is not all made equal, time restrictions for various online activities should also differ.
One way to regulate your child’s screen time is to set clear guidelines and limits to ensure a balance between the various uses of their device. For example, time can be set aside for playing their favourite computer games or watching YouTube videos, but only after completing their learning for the day with enough discipline and focus.
You might not have realised but, there is also a difference between personal screen time and communal screen time. Communal screen time includes enjoying a TV show together or playing a game with their siblings on the console. So, strike a balance between the two to ensure your child basks in the benefits of technology for learning, entertainment and even family bonding time!
After a long day of sitting in front of the computer screen, it is time for your child to rest their eyes. This is important because it might lead to a case of computer vision syndrome, where prolonged eye discomfort can lead to increased problems with one’s vision.
If you spot your child getting headaches or red eyes, it’s time to cut back screen time and give their eyes a break. Instead, they can refer to printed, hardcopy materials to continue learning, even without digital devices.
On top of that, it is best to avoid screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime. Swap out screen time and encourage your child to pick up healthier sleep habits, such as reading a book or listening to music instead.
Encourage non-screen activities
While the phone and laptop contain a myriad of media for your children to consume, it is better to explore other alternative hobbies to keep themselves occupied. While outdoor activities and group hangouts are less plausible during the pandemic, they can still visit your neighbourhood park for some exercise with the family to get their eyes off the screens.
And if you find your child restless at home, cultivate good habits such as reading or picking up a new hobby. There has been no better time to whip out the old Lego set or board games they have neglected. If old school games aren’t their thing, keep their hands occupied with a craft project, or get them to bond with their siblings in a baking project!
Use an app to help you
As children born in this technologically savvy era, your teenager is probably no stranger to productivity applications. Productivity applications on mobile phones are increasingly popular among teenagers to help them stay on task. Available as browser extensions as well, these apps work to eliminate any potential distractions.
But, if your child is younger than the 7th grade age, they might not be as familiar with these handy applications, so consider roping in the help of parental lock features to monitor their screen time. The parental lock can also control their access to distractions such as games or social media. This way, it is easier to manage your child than manually keeping your eyes on the clock whenever your child is using the computer or tablet.
As the world’s reliance on digital devices increases, there is an urgent need to re-evaluate how we educate our children on digital literacy and digital usage. Rather than indiscriminately restricting access, it is crucial to recognise times where it is necessary or beneficial. That’s why digital literacy programmes across international schools in Singapore are gaining traction, and they are now seen as a necessity rather than a bonus.