Screen time is a contentious thing. Almost every parent has read about a study that says giving kids time in front of computers, televisions, and smartphones is detrimental to their health. While this may be true if your kids spend hour after hour parked in front of a screen, most of the time these studies just make parents feel guilty for allowing their kids to play video games or watch movies when they need a break from parenting.
Like anything in this world, the key to healthy screen time is moderation. When given in moderation, screen time can actually benefit your children. Let’s take a look at what these benefits are so that you can start to let go of any screen time-driven guilt you might have as a parent.
Support Healthy Development Through Co-Viewing
When you engage with your child by co-viewing or co-playing on digital media, you can help support their development. Co-viewing means watching movies or shows with your child and then asking and answering questions about the material, pointing out important concepts, and blending the content into your daily lives and routines. Co-playing means that you play learning games with them on your devices and again promote deeper thinking by asking questions about the game and highlighting lessons from the game.
By engaging in this way, you can create a structure that supports your child’s learning from digital media. You can do this with children as young as 18 months to encourage their linguistic, cognitive, and social-emotional development. For older children, engaging in digital media can help encourage their interests and passions. By watching animated movies, for instance, you can talk about how the movie is made and this may spark an interest in drawing and animation. You can then look at programs like Animation Mentor, which was the first online animation school. Your child then has a goal to work towards and an ambition that can drive them to greatness.
Promote School Readiness
Just as screen time can spark lifelong passions, it can also help develop a knack for learning. Screen time through technologies like e-books allows kids to hone their reading skills. They also allow parents to help their kids develop these skills by engaging in dialogic reading, which is when parents ask them questions about the stories and relate the content to the child’s life.
While reading on devices like e-books is the best example of how screen time can help prepare kids for school, there are many video games out there that can also help kids develop skills for school. Certain digital games are made specifically for learning, but even video games like Minecraft can help with school. With over 200 million copies of Minecraft sold as of May 2020, it is the best selling video game of all time and has been cited as one of the most influential of all time. Minecraft allows players to build worlds of their own with few rules, encouraging kids to develop valuable creative thinking skills. It has also been used in educational settings to help teach how to build computers and hardware. By allowing your child a reasonable amount of time for playing video games like this, you can help them build skills that they can use throughout their life.
Connect with Family Members
A great use of screen time is video chatting with your family members when in-person interactions may not be possible. With the COVID-19 pandemic still keeping many people throughout the country quarantined in their homes, platforms like Skype and FaceTime have become essential in keeping families connected. Using these platforms can be a great way for your children to see and talk with their grandparents. Children of any age can use video chatting platforms to connect with family, allowing them to develop important emotional and social bonds.
Find Solutions for Healthy Screen Time
If you’ve been allowing your kids more screen time than usual during this pandemic, don’t panic. Too much screen time can have negative effects, but there are easy solutions to them. For instance, if you or your kids have been getting dry eyes from looking at screens too much, try using maqui berry extract. A study discovered that taking 30 to 60 milligrams of concentrated maqui berry extract every day can increase tear production by about 50%. If you’re worried that your children are gaining weight from sitting in front of the television too much, try to get them outside with fun games or use the television to throw dance parties. If you think their movies or games aren’t educational enough, develop critical questions for what they are watching to get them to engage more deeply with media.
However you choose to combat the negative effects of screen time, rest assured that there are plenty of positive benefits. From deepening family bonds to honing critical thinking skills, digital media can be a tool for good. Just remember to limit the amount of screen time and use it in a way that helps their development or bonds you as a family.