Increased Screen Time for Kids During Covid-19 Lockdown, Another Trouble Brewing?

Staying online for the entire day is normal for many growing children and adults alike. But the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a whole new set of challenges that are changing the connotation of a healthy life. 
 
As nearly all the schools are shut down, kids are spending a maximum of their time online; surfing websites, online education/music/video games/shows so on so forth.  This more than usual time invested online has undoubtedly drawn the attention of parents and child psychologists if it’s healthy or not. 

In this blog post, we shall discuss if and to what extent parental concern is justified as the screen time of children shoots up.  

How Much Is Too Much?

We are invariably reliant on technology as most people start and end their day seeing the phone screen!  However, this hasn’t done anything good for anyone. From feeling anxious, angry to agonizing over inexplicable emotions, social media hasn’t been a good influence on young children. 
 
 
While many industries are suffering due to the lockdown, Steam, Valve’s PC gaming marketplace has witnessed a record number of users logging in crossing the mark of 22 million players. 

This has compelled parents to ponder over the impact such an unprecedented increase in screen time will have on growing children. 

As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for screen time for children: 
  • Ideally, children with an age of fewer than 18 months must avoid the screen. 
  • Parental intervention is appreciated for children 18 to 24 months of age to expose them to high-quality media viewing. 
  • For children 2 to 5 years of age, screen time should not exceed one hour.  Parents are advised to supervise their children while viewing any televised or media program. 
  • For children age 6 and older, parental discretion is advised to ensure that children’s health does not suffer.  Make sure they are physically active, eat well, and enjoy adequate sleep for complete health and wellbeing.  
A recent report by UNICEF, titled Growing up in a connected world, reflects that some children do experience adverse results owing to excessive use of digital technology,  there is no conclusive evidence if screen-time is to be held responsible for. 

I’m sure many parents might be squirming in their chairs. It’s okay if you feel concerned about your children spending more time online than with you, as all are stuck in this together.
 
How to optimally utilize screen time?
 
Encourage Educational Content 

Screen time is not always wrong and you know that, right? So, pique the interest of your children towards online learning programs for skill development. Also, many students whine about endless math homework and other assignments. You can find ample support for completing your homework with online tutoring services for not just math but different subjects.  
 
 
Stay Connected with Friends 

These are extraordinary times for every individual with uncertainty looming over our future. So, your children need to communicate with their family and close friends effectively. Stave off fear, anxiety, or panic by connecting with friends, current and old, and tide over the Covid-19 pandemic. Do not let the isolation or social distancing affect their mental health and instead encourage them to talk to their best friend. 
 
No Screen-Time 

Make some room for a time when no one touches their smartphone, laptop, or even a TV remote. Spend quality time with family over food, cooking, cleaning, exercising, gardening, or playing indoor games. 

Indulge your children in meaningful activities, so they do not inadvertently fall victim to any hazard that stems from spending reckless time online. 

Keep an eye on what all they do online so you can guide them at the right time. Be vigilant to their behavior and take corrective measures, including online counseling, if needed.
 
 
Listen to Your Body 

We all are finding it inconvenient with the restrictions imposed though it’s for our betterment only. Make the most of this idle time and indulge in physical activities without distancing yourself from the SCREEN. How? 

Switch on: 
  • Zumba class
  • Freestyle dancing sessions
  • Indoor yoga training programs 
  • Aerobics 
  • Pilates
  • Gym exercises and many more 
There are many YouTube programs and apps that guide you through various physical exercises. Even the WHO has some fantastic suggestions for people during the Covid-19 lockdown.
 
Do not let the boredom settle in with a sedentary lifestyle. Stick to a fixed routine every single day and stay physically active during self-quarantine, and post normalcy is resumed. 
 
As we wrap up

Given the uncontrolled situation of this world, we must reinvent new means to help your kids to tide over the time. 

Your fears of increased screen-time might be legit, but avoid being harsh on your kids and instead help them navigate through the digital space without affecting their overall health and wellbeing.

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