How Can You Manage Appropriate Screen Time for Your Kids in Distance Learning?
Montessori Middle School Las Vegas | Screen Time Safety
In a world of distance learning, many families are struggling to balance safe and healthy amounts of screen time for their kids. How bad is excessive screen time for your children? What can families do to manage it? Read on for some Innovation Academy tips…
Is Screen Time Bad for Kids?
There is a lot of research available that discusses the downside to screen time for children. Screen time includes TV’s, cell phones, laptops, tablets, playing video games, participating in ZOOM meetings, and use of any other electronic device with a screen.
Possible Health Problems from Excessive Screen Time Include:
- weight problems
- eye problems
- chronic headaches
- chronic neck pain
- trouble reading and communicating
- attention and focus problems
Additionally, many children can suffer from a wide range of physical and mental health issues related to excessive screen time. The short answer is, yes, excessive screen time is proving to be detrimental to the overall health and development of children. However, that does not mean that all screen time is bad. Ours is a wired (or wireless) world, and as such, electronics and screens are an integral and indeed necessary part of life. Screen time CAN BE bad for your children, when used in excess and when unsupervised. However, screens can also be a valuable tool. Particularly during these challenging times.
How Much Screen Time is Too Much Screen Time?
That depends. The primary factor is age. However, because of the special circumstances created by COVID-19, other important considerations include purpose of the screen time as well as monitoring what activities screen time might be replacing.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has an excellent breakdown of screen time recommendations and guidelines.
AACAP Screen Time Recommendations for Kids
- 0-18 months: limited to video chatting (Facetime) along with an adult
- Between 18-24 months: limited to watching educational programming with a caretaker
- Children 2-5 years old: limit non-educational screen time about 1 hour a day, 3 hours on a weekend day
- Ages 6 and up: encourage healthy habits and limit screen-based activities
- NO screens during family meals and outings
- NO screens 30-60 minutes before bedtime
How to Adapt Screen Time During Distance Learning
With many students having to take their education online, limiting screen time is nearly impossible. Instead, what families should focus on is modifying screen time limits, carefully monitoring what is occurring during screen time, and balancing out all of this extra screen time with purposeful breaks and activities.
Many experts feel that educational and interactive screen time should not count against screen time limits the same way as regular TV shows or video games. For example, watching an educational documentary, participating in a Facetime conversation, or watching an exercise tutorial video while performing the exercise at home, all carry many benefits. Additionally, due to distance learning, they may be unavoidable. In this way, families should be flexible to accommodate this “positive” screen time, particularly during COVID-19.
The Importance of Physical Breaks
Of course, this does not mean hours on end of documentaries or YouTube tutorials are ok for your kids. There has to be balance. Regardless of how positive or beneficial the programming is, kids need a physical break from screens. Even the most instructional, educational, and beneficial program still creates eye strain, exposes you to blue light, and is usually done while sitting still. As such, try to plan regular breaks throughout your children’s distance learning day to get them away from the screen. This might look like a 15 minute break outside for every hour of distance learning on a screen. Or perhaps a “mandatory” movement break as they transition from their Zoom lesson to the asynchronous (independent) portion of their lesson.
The important thing with breaks is to give the eyes a chance to rest, give the body a chance to move, give the brain a chance to receive different stimulation, and give the person a chance to interact with other people in the home or with the world around them. (By the way, these tips can also apply to adults who deal with excessive screen time for their work.)
Additionally, with so many hours of screen time already being dedicated to distance learning, some families may need to implement new rules around “non-school” related screen time. An important thing to consider with distance education is that many kids are not just losing in-person learning, they are also losing physical activities from P.E., recess breaks, lunch breaks, and even just transitioning from class to class. As such, it may be important for some families to provide some kind of physical activity, which might have to replace previous downtime spent on recreational screen use (like video games or channel surfing).
A Montessori Middle School Difference
Innovation Academy understands the unique challenges that COVID-19 has brought to our community. We continue to work hard to support our families and their choices for what is best for them.
Innovation Academy believes strongly in using technology and screens to enhance education, not replace it. Please CONTACT US today to learn more about the Innovation Academy difference!
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Montessori Middle School Las Vegas | Screen Time Safety