Schools remain closed for another three weeks. Virtual hugs all around and a huge shout out to all homeschooling parents. Screen time has become an unavoidable necessity, and this isn’t a bad thing.
There are positives and negatives to everything, including screen time. This time can be creative, educational, and developmental for your child.
How Does Too Much Screentime Cause Your Child To Become A Zombie?
Too much screentime can lead to crankiness, whining and full-on meltdowns, also known as the zombie effect.
Research has shown that too much screen time can cause kids to be quick to anger, become highly irritable and unmotivated.
Research has also shown that fast moving animation and videos lead to attention issues, while slower paced screen time doesn’t have the same effects.
Setting Good Boundaries
One way to avoid the zombie effect is to limit screentime filled with fast moving animation and videos and watch slower paced media. So how can you set up boundaries around screen time?
- Have the conversation as a family
Boundaries help children gain control of their lives. Having the conversation as a family will help he kids understand the reasons for the boundaries and allow them to strengthen their self-regulatory muscle.
- Schedule screen time with your child
Research has shown that screen time with your child, chatting through the activity or what you’re watching not only encourages bonding but also increases literacy skills as you point out interesting things, ask them questions and get into their world which boosts empathy and allows your child to be more open about what they’re watching. This also allows you to monitor the content they consume.
- Mix up screen time with other activities
Remember to include activities that will improve the child’s physical, mental and psychological well-being, increasing their happiness.
- Make pledge to put your devices down for family time
This one is more about quality than it is about quantity. Understandably, now that we spend more time at home because of movement restrictions and working from home, scheduling time to step away from the emails and zoom meeting to connect with your child will make them calmer. Make it fun by having a code word when one needs attention. This will expecially help if your child is experiencing some level of anxiety.
- Set as screen cut-off before bedtime and have devices away from beds
We know even as adults the urge to check your phone when we wake up during the night or first thing in the morning. This can be disruptive to your child’s sleep routine and have negative side effects. To avoid this agree on a cut off time and charge devices in a separate room overnight.
Activities That Are Good For Your Child
Remember dancing how dancing to your favourite song as a kid felt? Ah yes, playing the same song over and over again, like the Spice Girls, “Wannabe”. This never gets old and is something you can recreate for your kids.
Look for music videos on YouTube of your child’s favourite upbeat songs and make a dance playlist to keep their body moving and add joy and laughter in between homeschooling or chores.
Some video consoles such as Playstation Move and Nintendo Wii support exercise. Your kids can play games such as tennis, kickboxing etc. Alternatively, find a workout video on YouTube and stretch those muscles.
These are activities important to develop your child social skills and keep their mental health strong and healthy as they feel connected. Check out this article on virtual hangouts on our website.
Online Reading Fun
Children’s book author Kate Messner came up with the idea to have authors read aloud, lead art activities, and get the creative juices going. All resources are arranged in age appropriate categories.
Start a Family Newsletter
To keep friends and family updated on what’s new with your family. Encourage your child to act like a reporter, capture pictures of interesting things around the house and put them together. This will keep them busy and entertained for a while.
Start a Journal
Journaling is a great way to process emotions and record the day to day happening to reflect and remember over time. Being home, the hours and days can roll on one after the other and so much can be missed in routine. Journaling is a great way of practicing mindfulness, lowering anxiety and stress for kids. Jounaling can be words or pictures, whatever your child prefers.
Remember To Spend Time Outdoors
Studies have shown that spending time in the good old outdoors has many benefits. It makes us happier, less stressed and physically healthier. Whether it’s walk the dogs, hanging the laundry together, or enjoying the sun outside, remember to spend time away from the screen and enjoy the outdoors.
In as much as the movement restrictions are challenging, with a little creativity, screentime can be a life saver as well as memorable. So remember to make the most out of it.
Let us know i the comments below how you’re using screen time to make the most out of the time spent at home.