We’ve seen and even experienced the vast increase in screen time over the course of the last few months. For our school-going children especially, classes, parties, and even extra curricular activities pivoted online. But as lockdown restrictions ease and our children return to school, how do we help them wean back on the duration of screen time they’ve become so used to?
Screen time during the lockdown.
According to research done by plano, screen time among children increased screen time among children increased by about 20%. Termed as ‘Generation C’ by the team over at SuperAwesome, these kids are the ones who grew up through the digital age and the COVID-19 pandemic. Their report even showed that children spent about 50% more on a phone and a tablet for entertainment. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that kids spent more time on their devices before bedtime, especially on social media.
The increase in overall screen time is therefore no surprise given that children had to use the internet to connect with their friends, attend classes, and even entertain themselves. Of course, as parents, we understood this and some of us may have even relaxed our usual screen time limitations. Our children who grew up in these times definitely led very different childhoods than those of previous generations.
Scaling back the screen time post lockdown.
Our children have definitely gotten accustomed to the screens. Now that there has been an ease in lockdown restrictions, there’s a lot more they can do again! You probably wouldn’t want to start confiscating their devices so soon lest they go cold turkey. It’s also going to be a little difficult to implement old screen time rules again. So what can we do to help Generation C, our children, cut back on their screen time post-lockdown?
Here are 3 easy steps you can take:
1. Talk to them gently about the change
No one really likes abrupt, impromptu changes. Not even your children. If they were used to certain freedoms regarding their screen time during the lockdown, let them know kindly that things have changed (again).
Set up an open line of communication telling them about what is expected of their screen time now that lockdown restrictions have relaxed. At the same time, ask them about their concerns. Are they concerned they still won’t be able to meet their best friends? If they are, negotiate an appropriate time they can use their devices to catch up with them and explain why these rules are necessary.
2. Start planning family events outdoors again
Do you live in an area where you’re allowed to go to the parks or the zoos once more? (With appropriate safety measures, of course). If you do, then lucky you! Why not plan a short outing with the family to bond outdoors just like before!
Filling up some portions in your family calendar with a few outdoor activities can help scale back some of that screen time. Instead of finding fun through online games, through some safely planned outdoor activities, your children can now find that same fun outdoors again. It could even be just half an hour at the nearby playground – that’s a great start to helping your children re-adjust.
3. Parental control apps are always there to help
Of course, with lockdown restrictions easing, that doesn’t mean our children will be instantly without their devices. They still need to use it, but moderately of course. One way to help manage their screen time is by downloading parental control apps like the plano app on their devices.
You can use the plano app to set device times on your child’s phone. For instance, you can schedule a no-device time during dinner or family-bonding time so that your child will be able to focus on activities away from the screen. The app also reminds your child to take a break from the screens every 30 minutes with device break reminders. During this time, your child won’t be able to use his/her device for 1-2 minutes and can take a quick eye break from the screens.
We want the best for our children and we wouldn’t want them to spend every day and night on the screens. Even after the lockdown, our children will still have their devices, but it’s important to teach them the right habits to manage their screen time.