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  • Junior Oliveira

Screen time and COVID-19: Shall we forget our rules?

Updated: Apr 10

Hello everyone, as a considerable part of schools are temporarily closed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, recently, many mums and dads have been tasked with the responsibility of becoming unofficial home educators (as well as entertainers, craft specialists, high skilled cooks, coaches and much more). And I am sure that most of us can do it well enough to make our kids happier and safer.

However, schools closed also means home schooling or online learning, and as a result it’s natural that the amount of time children spend watching screens will increase. Thus, we have to face the truth, as parents, we are struggling with new habits, even if we are working from home and we are able to see what our children are doing online, our screen-time rules don’t work in this new world. But how much have the rules changed? And how can mums and dads manage digital technology use by their kids with learning purposes, restrictions on being outdoors, keeping a safe social distance and their own mental well-being?


I know, it seems that the usual screen-time guidelines that many parents attempted to follow have fallen to pieces. But do not worry too much, I am sure we can find effective ways to cope with this global issue. I found some very interesting pieces of advice pointed out by specialists and other parents:


Have a plan and stick to it

Talk with your children about what your new (temporary) daily routine will be, how you will handle tension, and when you will take breaks from online home-schooling to relax and talk with each other.


Be realistic (and flexible)

According to Common Sense Media, a non-profit advocacy group focused on media and tech use, we do not have to “throw all our screen time rules out the window,’ but you can definitely be more flexible. We are confronting an unusual global situation and we are trying to figure out how to carry on with our lives under the new conditions, it’s OK to allow more screen time than usual, as long as it’s age appropriate.


Online and offline activities - getting the balance right

  1. Under normal circumstances, studies related to childhood, screen time and use of technology had been quite clear: the more screen time children have, the more likely they are to consume unhealthy snacks. However, at least for while don’t go mad about controlling screen time, this is an advice from practitioners; according to the American Academy of Pediatrics - AAP we have to make sure it’s not interfering with sleep, physical activities and relationships.


Go offline with your children

I know that sometimes it seems convenient to let the screens act as temporary babysitters, but too much of that is a mistake, because we still need to maintain our emotional well-being—not just our physical health. Why not to go offline with your kids? Families should try to make lemonade out of lemons so make time for offline experiences, which can help you to connect emotionally. There are so many simple things in life that are so entertaining, for example in my house we are working on a “green family project” (a kitchen garden); and you don't need a lot of space to grow fresh veggies & herbs; I bought a small greenhouse box (40 x 55 cm ), and it is noticeable that it provided all the conditions our seeds needed to thrive. I am sure you can find interesting hobbies that are fun for the whole family, and you can even participate in several different hobbies rather than sticking with one. Origami could be another interesting and enjoyable activity.


Teach your children to be safe online

Yep, we can be more flexible for a while, but we can’t forget about the premises related to childhood & online safety. As you children are spending more time online while staying home, ensure they are safe; It is a fact that it can be challenging to know how to talk to your child about online safety, but you can try to find some ideas online, in the NPSCC Organization site, you can find some tips on how to start this kind of conversation. And you can learn how to use all possible resources available, from setting up parental controls to advice on sexting, online games and video apps. And maybe it is time to be updated on these topics and the risks and consequently you will keep your child safer.


Be positive!

An effective balance is possible to reach! According to Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology wellbeing guidelines, a productive day for kids, requires a combination of physical activity, good play, a good sleep—and a very limited amount of time on screens. But we have to bear in mind that providing our kids with more time on screens right now might be crucial and effective for us( parents), and we can still take steps to relieve the screens’ impact by following some of these tips above.


My final words: I am building my hopes on our society, that we are getting through those hard times altogether. And will come out stronger and better human beings. I hope you found this post useful and informative. I really need your support, as this a self-funding project, so I kindly ask you (if you can or if you wish) to please share this post and subscribe to our mailing list!



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References: To see the sources of this article, please click on each link within the text. See you, guys!


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