How to manage your child’s screen time

During the COVID-19 pandemic, screen time has increased for many of us, including our children – which to some may feel concerning. Even prior to the pandemic, research by the Independent revealed that 83 percent of parents were concerned about the amount of time their children spend in front of screens and monitors.

Schoolwork and lessons that took place primarily online for many students across the world due to the pandemic have of course contributed to an increase in the amount of time children spend in front of screens – and this is largely unavoidable. However, parents have expressed concerns that their children have been spending extra hours of non-school related screen time per day.

Unfortunately, we’ve again seen a drastic rise in coronavirus cases worldwide in the past few weeks, with many countries introducing new, strict measures to help combat the virus. These new measures will affect the basic level of exercise for children once again, meaning that they’re likely to spend a lot more time at home and in front of the screen.

We’ve discussed previously tips around how you can limit the screen time of your children, but here are a few more useful tips you could follow:

Model healthy behavior

Many of us are working from home on screen-based tasks all day so it’s important to build screen breaks into your own work time, and let your child see what you are doing and why. For example, step outside or move into a different room for lunch or coffee break. Wake up an hour early to exercise or go for a walk around the neighborhood after work or at lunch with your child. This is good for your own wellbeing and sets a positive example for those around you.

Encourage more at-home activity

Change your home environment to encourage a more active and less sedentary lifestyle. For example, you can try and devote a space to a home gym (a workout area) and limit screens to a dedicated area. While screens can provide an effective communication channel with the outside world, it’s important to remember that our homes are a place to look after our collective wellbeing as a family which can be managed by changing the home environment accordingly.

Furthermore, researchers suggest that parents can use exercise as a way to earn points which can be used to “buy” screen time. You could encourage children to do more exercise by using positive cues, such as a points system, rather than penalising them for using screens too much.

Teach basic cybersecurity

Of course, spending more time online increases our chances of encountering upsetting content, therefore the rules of online safety are more important than ever. Communication is key, and it’s worth going over the fundamentals of cybersecurity with them. Talk about their online activities, help them to understand how to stay safe, explain why they shouldn’t share personal information on social media, talk to them about cyberbullying and why they shouldn’t talk to strangers, and let them know they can talk to you about anything that concerns them.

If needed, use the parental control settings on devices to set up specific times for use as well as password control. This means that children will not be able to access the device outside of these hours or without the password.

It’s important to keep in mind that the issue with screen time and wellbeing is not so much around the amount of time spent using devices, but often rather the type of activities undertaken, the content our children are exposed to and the time of the day they use screens.

Do you need further advice on screen time and keeping children safe online? Visit some of our other blogs on the topic: