Screen Time in the Age of COVID-19: New Rules or No Rules?
We talk a lot about screen time and kids in the Meeker parenting community. Screen time, particularly social media, has been linked to anxiety. Most mental health experts recommend setting strict boundaries around how much time your child spends online and where he spends time online. But in recent weeks, as shelter-in-place orders have been given in many states and cities and schools have moved to an online format, is it even possible to monitor your child’s screen time? And, should you?
This is a different time for Americans and people all over the world. When life is abnormal, our rules and routines must adjust or else parents will drive themselves crazy. The only thing more stressful than a pandemic is trying to parent the same way you have in the past and enforce the same rules. Your life has changed. Your kids’ lives have changed. And as a family, you must establish new norms.
For screen time, rather than focusing on how many hours your child is online, consider some looser guidelines such as these:
1. Focus on quality over quantity.
In this article, Sierra Filucci, the editorial director of Common Sense Media, says kids “are going to be fine with extra screen time over the next couple of weeks…As long as you’re choosing age-appropriate content, you’re not going to do any major damage to your kids.”
Right now, the question isn’t How long can my child be online? but rather What should he be doing online? With school and social activities moved to the screen, chances are your child is spending most of his day online right now, and there’s not much you can do about it. That’s OK. You are not ruining him. Focus on quality over quantity. Has he been doing educational work, talking with a friend, watching an age-appropriate show? These could be very beneficial to him during this time, and to you.