In today’s new normal, several things are OK, IMHO: my kids still getting lots of outdoor time, having to homeschool my kids because I have to WFH, and my little ones getting extra screen time during COVID-19. I know, I know—but before you pull out the pitchforks, here’s the thing—a little extra screen time doesn’t have to be such a bad thing.
Screens are everywhere!
With COVID-19 around, there’s no way you can get around screen time. Plus, today’s kids are digital natives—they grew up with social media, with their parents sticking camera phones in their faces when they were babies, and now, they use it for school or to FaceTime with their grandparents.
We also use it to take much-needed me-time breaks, especially when we’ve had a crazy day at work and all we want to do is chill with a glass of wine and enjoy some peace and quiet. Is screen time during COVID-19 REALLY all that bad?
Passive screen time vs active screen time
Before you plop your toddler in front of an iPad so that they can enjoy two hours of Cocomelon, hold it right there. There’s a huge difference between using screens to “baby-sit” your kids and making screen time during COVID-19 purposeful. Passive screen time means letting your kids sit for hours in front of a TV or iPad and you having to snap them out of their trancelike-state. Meanwhile, Active screen time is when you look at media together and enjoy it together. Whether it’s FaceTiming relatives or using it to learn new dance moves, this is the best use of screen time.
A healthy mix
According to The New York Times, when it comes to screen time during COVID-19, we need to follow the 3 C’s: child, content and context. We know our children better than anyone else, so it’s up to us to decide what specifically works for them. Say, if your children are into animals, let them watch documentaries on animals (we love the Our Planet series on Netflix!) instead of Baby Shark on loop. If you have time, sit down and watch with them, ask them questions about what they’re watching.
Also, there are lots of educational apps out there, even for toddlers! We love the Endless education series (Endless Alphabet, Endless Numbers) because it has the kids learning numbers and letters, plus it entertains them too!
Be honest with them
Don’t hide your feelings about giving your children extra screen time during COVID-19. If you’re doing it because you have an important Zoom meeting or because you really need a little break, be open to them about it. You could say something like, “Mommy needs to do something really important for a few minutes, would you like to use your iPad?”. The more open you are about giving screen time, the less likely they’ll think of it as a sneaky treat.
As with all things in life, remember that too much of something is never good—especially screen time. Do allow your kids that extra screen time but remember not to overdo it! You’ve got this!