As families try to establish a new normal, balancing screen time for kids has become not only especially challenging, but more important than ever.
“It’s only natural that children will be spending more time on digital devices than usual these days in order complete school work, attend remote classes and communicate with friends and loved ones,” says Michele Havner, director of marketing at Eturi Corp., a company with a mission to empower parents to guide their children through a balanced use of technology.
“Restrictions about screen may need to be rethought in many cases, but they should not be completely eliminated.”
Here are a few insights and tips that can help parents create sensible, effective screen use guidelines for their children during the COVID-19 outbreak:
•Rethink leisure time: According to ReelGood.com data, March saw a whopping 70 percent jump in weekday streaming of kids’ movies and television shows.
While there may be more time on kids’ hands and fewer options of what to do with it, it’s important to emphasize alternative ways to relax and have fun so that kids are not spending all their waking hours looking at screens.
Leisure time will ideally include a mix of physical activity, creative projects, board games, reading and more.
•Prioritize Online Safety: Unfettered access to the internet and social media sites can put children at risk for a number of online threats.
The United Nations has warned that the increased unstructured time online has put millions of children at greater risk of both cyberbullying and of being exposed to harmful content.
Experts note that in the same way financial scammers have been working in overdrive to exploit the current crisis, the internet has also seen a surge of online predators targeting children.
Try to spend time in the same room as your kids during the day so you can keep tabs on them. Parents should have a respectful discussion with children about what kinds of activities they are engaging in online and who they are communicating with. This discussion should include what constitutes inappropriate content.
•Steer children to quality content: From free educational gaming apps to the online educational resources offered by museums and your local library, actively encourage your kids to explore the wealth of positive content designed for students and young people.
•Update Devices: Be sure to keep your family’s devices safeguarded from hackers and malware by installing the latest updates. New tools can help parents effectively keep screen time in check. For example, by using OurPact, a screen time management solution, parents can limit app access automatically for recurring activities like school or bedtime and can block or grant internet access on a child’s device any time.
Parents can view screenshots of kids’ digital activity on Apple devices. This feature will be available on Android soon. Information: OurPact.com.
•Check in: During your own free hours, spend some time checking in with your kids to see how they are coping with the current situation, how they are spending their free time and whether they are facing any struggles with remote learning.
•Online resources: Through the LeapFrog Learning Path, an online portal featuring free resources to keep children learning at home, parents can find valuable advice from learning experts on a variety of topics, such as preparing kids with 21st century skills and learning to read.
In addition, the portal provides a suggested daily schedule, a list of educational websites and free printable activity books..
Whether a parent is looking for a role-play toy for their child that loves pretending to be a chef, a desk to practice writing skills or an interactive learning system, personalized toy recommendations will make it easier for parents to keep children engaged and learning.