With things like Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok among the things your children probably love to “play” with on their phone, tablet or computer, now they have to do “work” too, as many school districts remain in virtual learning mode due to COVID-19.
This is raising concerns about how much screen time is too much? A survey conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center asked parents if they are concerned that their children might ever spend too much time on digital screens. Among those responding, 40% said they were "somewhat concerned" and 31% said they were "very concerned." Combined, that is 71% have some reservations.
"It is a worry and it's easy to get burned out," said Becky Garske, an associate professor and coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Program at Mott Community College in Flint. She says if you have elementary or middle school students in your household, you need to pay close attention.
"I think younger children are definitely missing out on not having that contact and hands-on learning experience," said Garske of the virtual learning environment made necessary by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The current situation puts added pressure on parents to be aware of how their children are reacting to temporarily learning over a computer, not in a classroom.
"You can tell that they're paying attention if they're taking notes, reading, asking questions, so that there's some kind of interaction," said Gaske.
With concerns about the increased screen time required for education, it stands to reason that parents will look to cutback on how much they they allow their kids to spend on-screen for fun and the kids could interpret that as punishment.
Garske says parents should talk to their children about managing the screen time. "Make a plan and say, you have x-amount of hours that we're going to schedule for school and x-amount of hours that you can do your gaming, social media, phone or watch TV."
She also highly recommends scheduling at least an hour of totally screen-free time each day. Whether that's dinner time, recreation time outside or some other activity, put the phones, tablets and computer downs, turn off the television and do something as a family without the electronic distractions.