For any parent working from home with children, the conundrum of balancing lockdown boredom with tech is proving a tricky one.
Whether your child is into Roblox, Minecraft, TikTok or some other game or app, balancing the increased time they are now spending on phones, ipads and Xboxes can be one of the biggest parenting challenges of the pandemic.
Here are five suggestions to help.
- Determine tech limits together and set a good example.
- Unless your child’s bedroom is the only quiet place for older children to complete schoolwork, keep screens out of the bedroom.
- Set a time when screen use can begin for the day and set an end time to screen exposure a few hours before bedtime.
- Create a visual schedule so that children can see when devices need to be turned off throughout the day.
- Together, map out a plan for daily schoolwork and downtime.
- Balance passive screen use with more active options.
- Watching high-quality programming is fine, but kids can do lots of other things with screens.
- Investigate drawing programs, ways to make their own movies, have a dance party, listen to audiobooks, play interactive games, or learn a new skill.
- Use technology to connect with friends and family members – maybe even try a quiz on Zoom.
- Take a virtual field trip with your family.
- Many museums, nature reserves, national parks, orchestras, theatres and more, have opened their virtual doors and now offer free access to exhibits and shows.
- Take a look at our external resources page for ideas.
- Be aware of what children are watching and doing during screen time.
- Set limits on what’s okay and what’s not.
- Keep electronics in a common area where they can also be charged overnight.
- Consider flexibility when they are on with other friends but reducing solo-screen time.
- Acknowledge the emotions behind increased screen time.
- Kids (and adults) are using screens for practical reasons related to school and work.
- They are also using screens to connect with their friends. Even with lockdown restrictions slowly lifting, it’s the only way for some and the most practical way for others. Social interaction is important for everyone and they should be encouraged to keep in touch with their friends if possible.
- We’re also using screens as a diversion because we’re facing frightening unknowns and children are too – some may watch TikTok to zone out – as we would scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Recognising this but setting time limits can help manage this.
- Talking about our feelings helps us begin processing and healing from these experiences and move to a more productive place.