Kids are spending more time with their gadgets now more than ever. A study found that children’s screen time has increased by 500 percent during the pandemic. This increase is almost unavoidable, especially since many are attending their online classes.
Aside from distance learning, screen time has also soared because of parents relying on digital media to babysit their children. Many parents juggle household chores and remote work duties, which makes it difficult for them to care for their kids more proactively.
However, excessive gadget use can cause various consequences for children. It can lead to poor eyesight, sleeping difficulties, and even development problems.
Keep in mind that not all screen time is equal. You can find ways to make sure your children use their gadgets in ways that engage them mentally or even physically.
Here are three ways to encourage productive and healthy screen time for your kids.
1. Choose high-quality educational media and platforms
Don’t give your children complete control over the content they consume. Help them choose media that’s worthwhile and mentally engaging. For instance, preschoolers can benefit from shows like Sesame Street, which has been proven to help kids learn about numbers, words, and other key life concepts.
There are also platforms that offer engaging educational materials that can keep your child occupied while you tend to some household chores. Gemiini, for example, uses play-based learning to teach reading, speech, and social skills. This clinically proven program also offers online video sessions and teaching tools for kids with special needs.
Another way to tie screen time and learning is to find educational media that match your child’s interests. If your 6-year-old son is fond of dinosaurs, find an age-appropriate video explaining the existence and extinction of the species.
2. Prioritize creation over consumption
Instead of passively watching videos, encourage your children to interact with technology in more creative ways. This way, their mind stays engaged, resulting in productive screen time.
Many apps teach kids of different ages to color, draw, write their own songs, or even play musical instruments. Older kids can also use their tablets or smartphones to film and edit home videos that they can share with extended family members. This activity not only teaches them a new skill, but it also gives your children a chance to bond with family members they might not have seen in a while due to the pandemic.
3. Use media with your children
Lastly, consume digital content with your children. It can be hard to dedicate time for this, but it would be significantly beneficial for your child if you join them in watching educational videos. You can help them understand what’s going on in the video and make connections with the real world to enrich their viewing experience.
In one study, 75 percent of 3-year-olds who watched Dora the Explorer thought that the Spanish words in the show weren’t real. These children were less likely to learn from the show.
When you join your kids in watching videos, you can answer any questions they have about the show. These are teachable moments that you shouldn’t miss because they allow you to shape your child’s character and help them learn more about life in general.
Plus, one great thing about joint media engagement is that it doesn’t require that much energy from you, compared to playtime or study time. You can watch a show or listen to an e-book together while you do simple tasks, like emailing or folding laundry.
Managing your kids’ screen time is vital to protecting their well-being. It will help shape them into well-rounded individuals and uphold their safety online. Parents should have a good sense of what their kids are doing online — not just to prevent consequences, but also to protect them from harmful media and strangers on the internet.