Published on Oct 11, 2021
Tips and Scripts for Managing Screen Time When School Is Online
Managing your children's screen time has been one of the toughest and vital jobs of a parent. You always need to monitor the amount of time your child spends watching TV, working on a computer, or playing video games. These sedentary activities make your children physically inactive while being seated in front of the screen.
Children use screen time for fun, relaxation, talking 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 your child has to do is online. You have to work online, and your kids have to attend their classes on an online platform. This means that they will have to use their screen to study too.
With the reality of distance learning, you also have to get used to seeing your children in front of their screens a lot. You may be worried about how this is going to affect your children. You have to limit their time in front of their screens for physical, mental, and emotional health.
A trick suggested by Common Sense Media says that you have to call the activity by their name. You have to distinguish between time and routine for your children and name different activities and distinguish each time for different activities.
Common Sense Media suggests that you call the activities by their name. For example, you call the period they study "study time." You can also set different periods such as "game time," "Friend time," "family time," and "Downtime. By distinguishing these periods, you will be better able to set a daily routine for kids.."
Using the naming technique also helps set up a healthy boundary for our children, and it will also help parents communicate more clearly about the routine of their child. So you must be wondering how you can help your child learn better when using their screens for school.
Let us dive into some 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 cannot 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 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 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 zoom, Google meets, 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 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, TikTok, 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 they are using and the data 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 by using text and video chats.
Therefore you need to have an open mind and interact with your teen. It would help if you established an open environment for interactions to share the issues they face without any hesitation.
It would help if you were involved and check in on their social lives. You need to monitor their social media habits. It would help if you made your kids feel comfortable talking about their friends and other dramas they face.
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 problems if they think that you will judge them. Hence you need to keep an open mind and talk to your teens as adults with real problems.
Script: "What is going on with your friends? Is there any drama that is happening in school?" I am happy to help you if you are having any issues.
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.
It would help if you reminded your children repeatedly about how some habits cannot be discarded. It would help if you reminded them that these are habits that need to be followed no matter what.
With online and offline activities bleeding together, it can be challenging for children to maintain their hygiene. Children often forget about their bedtime and playtime activities when they are given their screens. They insist on 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 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, children's physical health can be neglected. Even though exercising every day might seem like a hard thing to do, it is essentially balancing 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 in physical activity, your child will have fun and get their weekly exercise. It will also be family time to connect with your child and learn about their favorite 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, you will convince them to continue these activities daily. This will help maintain the physical health of you and your child.
Script: "What is your favorite 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
It would help if you discussed 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 for 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 them with your child. It would help if you made your child understand that you will be using parental controls to monitor their screen time.
It would help if you used the vocabulary that we learned earlier to distinguish the different periods. It would help if you understood that they could not use their screen during Downtime and family time. It would help if you held them accountable for overusing their screen and crossing their time limit. A form of punishment can include 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. This will also help build trust among you and your children. It would help if you communicated this to your child to understand that they need to build trust.
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. It would help if you considered asking your child what they have to do as schoolwork. It would help if you reminded them that they would use their screens for playtime or friend time only after completing their school work.
Parents should encourage their children to form a daily target such as reading a book and cleaning their room. This will help your child respect their routine and develop a habit of following their routine. You can also allow a period for each of their tasks. Screen time then can be used as a reward for achieving the daily target that they had set.
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 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. It would help if you communicated 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, and 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."
Hence these are tips and scripts for managing screen time when school is online. Parents must be aware of their kids' activities and observe them. It's really important for the parents to observe their kids' screen time. There should be some rules for the usage of screens by the kids. The tips mentioned above will definitely help you in controlling the screen time of your kids.
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