The COVID-19 pandemic has upended almost everything in society, and how families spend their time is no exception. Team sports, extracurricular activities, birthday parties, and a whole host of other events and time have simply vanished, leaving a string of gaps in the day. Meanwhile, with remote schooling and video-call socializing, screen time has gone up. Here’s how to re-balance in the face of a changing world.
Be Patient and Flexible
Parents need to cut kids, and themselves, some slack. The pandemic and related effects have set off a mental health crisis and nobody is immune. There are going to be moments where you need to let kids have an hour or two of TV or games above and beyond the rules, and there are going to be moments where you have to put your foot down and they aren’t going to take it well. A little patience and flexibility will go a long way, although parental control software should be in place to prevent circumventing the rules.
Structure and rules are good things to have with your family, especially when it comes to screen time. Some points, such as leaving tablets downstairs at bedtime and not using chat apps during family time, should be non-negotiable. You can allow leeway on some other points, especially if kids don’t have much else to do on a rainy day, for example, but the overall shape of the rules should stay in place.
Not Everything Is Off the Table
Remember that the key concern is not going outside, period, but rather spending long periods of time around large groups of people in improperly ventilated spaces. Being masked and out of doors is generally seen as relatively safe. Plan out a range of activities you can do together or solo throughout the fall and winter. Even just romping around the yard or playing games outside with siblings can do a lot to counteract cabin fever and help everyone adjust.
Focus On Quality
Screen time spent talking to family on video chat or doing homework with friends is different from playing yet another round of Pokemon or watching an entire season of a TV show. Even then, watching an educational series or learning a skill from an instructional video is different from reality shows and cartoons. Look closely at the quality of screen time, and encourage kids to do activities that involve building social skills, staying in touch with friends, and learning.
Create Other Options
If possible, create non-screen options kids can pick over just screen time. Family activities like hikes or bicycle outings, books, crafting activities, and cooking projects are just a few of the things you can encourage kids to do. Ask them for ideas and things they’ve always wanted to try, and make them workspaces and playspaces in your home they can use to try different things.
As the pandemic situation evolves, your family’s approach to screen time will shift with them. Parental control software can help you keep the rules consistent, fair, and followed. To learn more, try it for free!