Jun 07, 2021
Tips and Scripts for Managing Screen Time When School Is Online
For years you have been managing your kids’ screen time. They use it for fun, to relax, to talk to their friends, and for their assignments. You tell them not to use their screens all the time.
But now look at what has happened. Everything we have to do is online. You have to work online and your kids have to attend their school online. This means that they will have to use their screen to study too.
With the reality of distance learning, we also have to get used to seeing our children in front of their screens a lot. We are increasingly worried about how this is going to affect our children. We have to limit their time in front of their screens for their physical, mental, and emotional health.
A trick suggested by Common Sense Media says that we have to call the activity by their name. We have to distinguish between time and routine for our children. We have to name different activities and distinguish each time for different activities.
Common Sense Media suggests that we call the activities by their name. For example, we call the time they study “ study time”. By distinguishing these time periods, we will be better able to set a daily routine for kids. We can also set different time periods such as “ game time”, “ Friend time”, “ family time” and “ downtime”.
This also helps set up a healthy boundary for our children. This will also help parents communicate more clearly about the routine of their child. So you must be wondering what I can do to help my child learn better virtually. How can I help my child learn better when they are using their screens for school?
We are here to help with some of the ideas that will help you and your children better manage screen time when learning virtually:
For emotional wellbeing
Like you, your children also need socialization with their peers. Are you worried about your child being alone? Are you worried about them feeling lonely during this pandemic?
While you are busy with your work, your child might feel alone as they are not able to meet their friends or interact with anyone. You can help them relieve their stress from work by arranging virtual game nights for your child and their friends. You can also arrange family game nights with your family virtually. If you are concerned about your kid's safety, you can follow the guide on gaming safety. Also, you can use parental control to keep an eye on your child.
A virtual game night is an evening shared with delight and fun playing online games that are hosted virtually or playing virtual board games. These can be board games that you always play with your friends with Virtual makeovers.
These virtual game nights can be conducted through platforms like zoom, Google meet, messenger, and even Skype. Your children can play games like Bingo, trivia, Pictionary, heads up, and many more games with their friends and family online.
Playing these virtual games will help them adjust to the new normal. They will also be able to relieve their stress and talk to their friends besides meeting them in online classes. This will also be an opportunity for them to reunite with their grandparents or cousins.
Script: “ Are you bored? What is up with your friends? I will be happy to arrange gaming sessions for you and your friends virtually.”
For their mental well being
You might be worried about your child socializing online. children these days use different social media applications. They use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Reddit, and many more.
Children often don't share what is happening in their social life. With social life increasingly online you need to be responsible and check with them. you need to discuss the social media platforms that they are using and the level of data that they are sharing online.
Your children, especially tweens and teens, might have a hard time navigating their way into the world just using social media. It is hard for teens to navigate their way through life just using text and video chats.
Therefore you need to have an open mind and interact with your teen. You need to establish an open environment for interactions, so they can share the issues that they are facing without any hesitation.
You need to be involved and check in on their social lives. You need to monitor their social media habits. You need to make your kids feel comfortable talking about their friends and other dramas that they are being faced with.
Talking to them with an open mind will help them get over challenges and have more frank conversations with you. Teens often hesitate to share their problem, if they think that you will judge them. Hence you need to keep an open mind and talk to your teens as if they are adults with real problems.
Script: “What is going on with your friends? I am happy to help you if you are having any issues. is there any drama that is happening in school?”
For the physical well being
Implementing healthy habits
It can be hard to balance online and offline activities with everything being online these days. with an increasing amount of screen time, it can be hard to implement healthy habits into their routine.
You need to remind your children time and again about how some habits cannot be discarded. You need to remind them that these are habits that need to be followed no matter what.
With online and offline activities bleeding in together, it can be hard for children to maintain their personal hygiene. Children often forget about their bedtime and playtime activities when they are given their screens. They insist upon using their screen for hours at night. TV and Smartphones can affect the sleep of your child.
You also need to maintain other hygiene-related habits of your child when they are studying virtually. Waking up early and eating breakfast before joining their online classes should be a start. Children also should be reminded about other hygiene-related habits such as brushing their teeth, taking a bath, cleaning the room, and changing their clothes.
With a growing online presence, children might neglect their personal hygiene. Therefore we parents need to enforce a routine to maintain such healthy habits for children.
Script: “Join your online classes only after breakfast.”
With classes going online and the pandemic making it hard for kids to play outside, the physical health of children can be neglected. Even though exercising every day might seem like a hard thing to do, it is important two balance physical and mental health.
You can incorporate physical activities into your child's routine by setting family exercise time. Common Sense Media suggests incorporating physical activities like Silly walks, friendly races, and other physical games into the routine. You can incorporate these physical activities into your weekly routine for you and your child.
With you involving yourself into the physical activity your child will have fun and will also get their weekly exercise. It will also be a family time to connect with your child and learn about their favourite games and hobbies.
You need to make sure that you are not enforcing this physical activity on your child. You also need to make sure that your child is having fun while playing with you. If they find these physical activities fun, then you will be able to convince them to continue these activities daily. This will help maintain the physical health of you and your child.
Script: “What is your favourite game to play outside? Teach me one of those dance moves that you learned on Tik Tok. Let's race to the end of the block.
For keeping them accountable
You need to discuss parental controls with your child. Parents can monitor their kids’ online activities and the duration of their screen time. This offers peace of mind to parents and ensures healthy boundaries of screen time to children.
With everything online, it will be hard to monitor and maintain the screen time of your children. Hence you will need to use parental controls. Before using parental controls you need to discuss it with your child. You need to make your child understand that you will be using parental controls to monitor their screen time.
You need to use the vocabulary that we learnt earlier to distinguish the different time periods. You need to make them understand that they cannot use their screen during downtime and family time. You should hold them accountable for overusing their screen and crossing their time limit. A form of punishment can include the deducting the amount of playtime from the next day if they overuse the playtime for today.
You can take off the parental controls if your child demonstrates that they will no longer need monitoring. You should communicate this to your child so they understand that they need to build trust. This will also help build trust among you and your children.
Script: “I am using parental control to make sure that you are doing school work. You need to make sure that you are completing your assignments before playtime. You will only have playtime for 1 hour because you played 3 hours yesterday. I will take off parental control when you show me that you don't need them.”
For following their routine
One of the best ways of developing a habit in children is making a routine. By setting a routine, your child can develop a habit within weeks.
Parents should move towards limiting the time that is spent in front of screens. You should consider asking your child what they have to do as schoolwork. You should remind them that they will be able to use their screens for playtime or friend time only after they complete their school work.
Parents should encourage their children to form a daily target such as reading a book and cleaning their room. Screen time then can be used as a reward for achieving the daily target that they had set. This will help your child respect their routine and develop a habit of following their routine. You can also allow a time period for each of their tasks.
Script: “You need to complete your assignment before your friend's time at 6:30 pm.
Device-free time and zones
Technology allows so many things to be possible for you and your children. It also develops distance and feelings of loneliness. Using the internet and devices may cause you and your family to not spend any time together. This might affect your child negatively. Your child might get addicted to their screen.
The solution for all this is to make some rooms in your house to be off-limits to any e digital devices. These rooms are used only for family interactions or family time. You need to set certain spots in your house as device-free zones. You need to communicate this to all members of your family including your children.
For example, You can set the living room as a device-free room in your house. you can also set the dining table as a device-free zone. You will need to teach our children that they cannot be on their phones when they are in the living room and the dining table. They will have to leave the devices at their respective places when coming to the dining table or the living room.
Similarly, you can also ensure downtime by making device-free time. You need to set a daily reminder for daily routine reminding your spouse and your children that they are not allowed to use their device during certain hours. These hours have to be recorded as downtime for your children.
You can limit their screen time by restricting internet time after school. You can use this free time to connect with your children and understand them more deeply. You can also use downtime as a period to sleep or as family time. Sectioning off parts of your home as defined as a device-free zone will help your child understand, they are not supposed to use their device during dinner or during family time.
Script: “ Downtime is important to connect with your family. You have a designated place to use your device. You should not use your device on the dinner table or in the living room. These places are designated for family time and not for using your device.”
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