For years, parents have been advised to limit screen time. We’re all aware of the limits suggested by organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and families try hard to follow them.
But then…a pandemic hit, and the world turned upside down. Routines and rules changed, and technology was recast as a positive necessity.
In the wake of COVID-19, researchers/authors Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross found that of their three classes of digital parents (Embracers, Balancers, Resistors), “complete resistance” became nearly impossible. Who can completely resist technology?
Many little ones can only see their extended family members via FaceTime. School-aged children must use technology to continue learning. Stressed out families need to relax together, and watching a wholesome movie is a great option. But when you add up all of that screen time, isn’t it alarming?
Screen time experts say…”Relax.”
As times have changed, so have guidelines. In March, the AAP released a statement about technology use. What’s missing from this statement are any guidelines around technology time limits for young children.
That was a deliberate choice—there’s not a “one size fits all” standard anymore. Instead, the focus is on what Dr. Jenny Radesky (one of the writers) calls the Three C’s: Child, Content, and Context.
In a nutshell, trust yourself.
Parents know their children better than anyone else does. You also know the content you value and when it’s appropriate to incorporate it into your family routines.
According to Livingstone and Blume-Ross, the important question to ask isn’t “How much screen time?” It’s “How do we want to live, and how does technology fit in?”
Here are 3 ways you can use screen time to boost early development in a COVID-era world:
1. Stay in Touch with Loved Ones
Staying connected is one of the most important things we can do for everyone’s mental health (especially when it comes to children), even in quarantine.
The AAP reminds us that children are more likely to thrive when they are able to see friends and family—even if it’s on a screen. Connection is key to fostering positive social-emotional skills, which is an essential part of early childhood development.
2. Create Memorable Shared Moments
At Kindermusik, we believe one of the best ways to stay connected is to enjoy shared musical moments. Keep those scheduled virtual family chats going, but mix them up by singing favorite songs together and maybe even start a weekly family dance party!
Need some help? Grab our free Kindermusik app (download it on the Apple Store or Google Play), and find something everyone will love. And don’t watch the clock! You’ll be moving, grooving, and making memories, so it doesn’t count as actual “screen time.”
3. Sign Up for LIVE Virtual Classes
Digital instruction is on the rise, but in order to really capitalize on early development and social-emotional benefits, choose live, interactive virtual classes. This type of setting allows you to share learning experiences, conversations, and even laughter with other families. Trust us, children can tell the difference between when a teacher is actually asking them a question, and when it’s a recording.
Check out our long list of Kindermusik Virtual classes! Hop on over to the Class Finder, enter your zip code, and look for the Virtual Class icon. If there aren’t any nearby, no worries! You’ll receive plenty of virtual class opportunities that mesh with your family’s schedule.
Want more guidance?
More definitive advice is out there. Check out this excellent article from the Child Mind Institute. Perhaps what grabbed us the most was the very first piece of advice offered: “Start with compassion.” Wouldn’t things be better all-around if everyone did this on a regular basis?
On that note, take a deep breath, use technology when it makes sense for your family, and take this musical wish with you (one of our favorite, “we can do this” tunes from the Kindermusik library: “May There Always Be Sunshine”).
To find a Kindermusik Virtual Class, go to our Class Finder, enter your zip code, and look for the Virtual Class icon to find an opportunity that matches your schedule!