As our everyday lives become increasingly intertwined with technology, it is important to find ways to both spend time away from screens and make the best use of the screen time that works for your family’s needs. While there are downsides associated with unrestricted use of technology, there are also opportunities for learning, growth and connection when used appropriately and in moderation.
Finding a healthy balance takes time, so as you set up a plan and work together to put it into action, consider ways to make your child’s screen time purposeful! Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Evaluate Your Family’s Screen Time
Instead of focusing strictly on the number of hours your child could spend behind a screen each day, consider the different purposes for which your child might use technology. For instance, they might be doing homework, creating a digital masterpiece, reading an e-book, playing a video game, learning a new skill or chatting with a family member. You can monitor your child’s activities across devices to determine the amount of time you might allow for various apps, sites or digital tasks. They might gain knowledge or skills when spending more time on educational content and less time on other forms of media.
To go one step further, Common Sense Media provides age-based reviews and descriptions of popular movies, games and other content to help you make informed decisions on the media your child is consuming. When accessing the internet as part of their screen time, it is important to make sure that children are safe online – in both the subject matter they view and the information they may be sharing.
Build Skills Through Gaming
When educational gaming is used in a child’s learning, it can foster social-emotional learning, encourage risk-taking and more. Collaborative games may improve teamwork, and educational games can present or reinforce information differently than traditional methods of learning.
Did you know that many schools are embracing esports? Organized and competitive video gaming teams can help children find structure and build social connections with peers by engaging in an activity that is often otherwise done alone. By competing against others, participants can experience a sense of responsibility and teamwork that are often associated with other sports teams.
Video games generally require active participation and allow children to try again and again when faced with challenges. They can also bring an element of fun and creativity to learning. Of course, this is not to say that all video games will provide the same educational value – it is important to evaluate the games your child is playing for appropriate content and level of difficulty.
Strengthen Bonds Through Technology
Spending time with the people we care about is important, but in-person connection is not always easily accessible. Using video chat and other forms of digital communication, you can begin to remove obstacles such as distance as you assist your child in building stronger relationships with family and friends. There are also apps that aid in overcoming language barriers to allow friendships to flourish across the globe.
However, you don’t have to be far apart for technology to improve bonds. It can also be used to start a conversation with those in the very same room! Watching educational programming together, playing games or even finding common media interests can lead to engaging conversations with your child. An NPR Ed video explains that kids may need help understanding what they are seeing, so talking with them about the content they are consuming is beneficial. Furthermore, by co-viewing media or playing video games as a family, you can ask your child questions related to the content, support their learning and show interest in the things that are important to them – all while spending quality time together.
For additional learning trends and engaging activity ideas to try as a family, we encourage you to check out our blog.