As parents, the concern over how much time our children spend in front of a screen is not new. In fact, parent’s concern over their kids’ screen time has spiked to an all-time high during this pandemic. Why? Because kids are now in front of screens more often and for longer periods of time than ever before.
Whether we were all ready for it or not, we shifted our lives online during this pandemic – work, school, recreational activities, socialization, etc. Our days are filled with video calls via Google Meets, Zoom, Skype, Facebook & Facetime. Our kids are less active, and it has so many of us wondering what impact this increase in screen time is really having on our kids.
The 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth identified that:
It was challenging enough balancing screen time pre-pandemic, but now with so many children enrolled in online learning, and many other programs being conducted online (art programs, music lessons, exercise/sports programs), it feels like our kids (and us parents too) are online all the time.
Yes, you read those numbers correctly…given how much of our lives are now online these recommendations seem daunting, if not impossible to implement.
Screen time includes all the time a person spends engaged in learning or recreational activities on a:
Screen time has always been an important subject for parents and an area of serious study by health experts for years to understand the health impacts. Research has shown that screen time can have a serious negative impact on a child’s emotional, mental, and physical health.
Too much screen time has been linked to issues with:
Kids that spend too much time in front of a screen are at a higher risk to become less:
When kids spend too much time glued to a screen, they may appear sad, tired, lonely, withdrawn, stressed, tense, agitated, fearful, or nervous. They may also isolate themselves from family members or their friends, have emotional outbursts, become aggressive, have difficulty concentrating or even loose interest in their favourite activities or in school.
Yes, your child is now spending far more time in front of a screen, especially if they are doing online learning for school. But not all their screen time is considered equal, nor is it all bad for them.
For example, your child playing Among Us or Minecraft on their tablet is not the same as participating in an online lesson with their teacher or in an online class discussion, or an online math tutoring session with an expert here at Mathnasium of Newmarket. Your child texting or video chatting with their friends on their smart phone is not the same as them participating in an online music lesson via a computer. Your child watching YouTube videos on how to build a motorized Lego car is not the same as them watching cartoons online or streaming a movie.
For healthy development and to thrive, kids need different types of experiences in their everyday life. These experiences need to occur both in real life (offline) and online. Managing their screen time is more than just reducing it. It is about helping it become more meaningful in today’s super connected, digital world.
To balance & monitor screen, especially in a time with increased usage and online learning, you need to get a better understanding of how your kids are spending their time online.
The first step in doing this is to determine how much time they are spending on learning activities vs. recreational activities:
We hope you’ve found this informative and helpful in better managing screen time! If you have any questions about our online or in-centre math tutoring programs here at Mathnasium of Newmarket, we’d love to hear from you.