Does the phrase “summer break” give you memories of catching fireflies at dusk and splashing in sprinklers with friends? Did you read for hours under the sun, sleep in a tent or take beach trips with your family? Or how about "winter break"? Hot chocolate and hours of family time spent reading and playing games?
For most of us, our fond holiday break memories don’t involve much screen time, and it can be difficult to accept that tech is a larger part of kids' lives today than it was in our childhood. In this two-part series, we’ll dive into when screen time is ok, and ideas on incorporating technology into your routine in a healthy way.Jump To Section:
Why Manage Screen Time:
According to a 2020 study, “Two-thirds of parents in the U.S. say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many citing technologies – like social media or smartphones – as a reason.”
The Mayo Clinic reports that excess or poor quality screen time is linked to:
Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
Loss of social skills
Less time for play
It’s up to us as parents to decide exactly how much time is the right amount, but notice the distinction between “excess” and “poor quality” screen time. There’s a massive difference between your child watching their favorite gamer stream Fortnite, versus watching their hybrid science teacher walk them through an interesting experiment they conduct at home.
How to Regulate Screen Time:
It’s important that we join our kids in both their real and virtual journeys as they grow. In both avenues, we can teach kindness and playfulness. We as caregivers can be involved in their lives and get to know all of their friends.
Be Virtual, Together:
Select shows and video games together, and if you veto their suggestion, talk about it
Find engaging, rather than passive, options
Talk about what they played and viewed
Show them how to use critical thinking with Internet content and ads or commercials
Schedule times, like at dinner or family game night, that are tech-free
Set screen-time limits
Turn off background TV
Follow their screen time rules yourself, so your children have a technology role model
Pinwheel gets ahead of a lot of these issues. Here’s just a handful of examples.
- Set Modes and Routines to keep your kids on a schedule and help them power down before bed
- Make checklists inside the Caregiver Portal that they can view on their Pinwheel phone to remind them to feed the pets or make their beds
- Subscribe to Bark for red-flag notifications
- Keep an eye on their location when they go out exploring
When creating your family’s screen time plan, make sure your child understands your expectations, such as discussing exactly which types of personal information should not be shared online. You should also ensure that your kids are text messaging savvy. However, like with everything else in life, expect them to make mistakes as they learn.
So, take a moment right now to consider what’s best for your family, talk about it together and start plotting a routine today. Let’s embrace this era of technology in a healthy, intentional way.