Thanks to the coronavirus, all of us have had a dramatic change in lifestyle. Not only are many parents working from home, but schools are closed, extracurricular activities are suspended and daycare may not be an option. This creates a long day for everyone and could result in a lot more screen time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing under these circumstances.
Here are some helpful hints about using screen time during social distancing:
Have a schedule: Young children thrive on consistency. They also need to maintain consistent sleep, so keep bedtime, wake-up time and naps relatively the same. Have a schedule of what you will do each day, asking your kids to help decide what activities will go in the schedule – this includes screen time. Don’t forget to include physical activity and down time, along with school work and chores.
Academics: Get the scoop from your child’s teacher or school district on assignments, work packets and what topics they need to focus on. Ask about the availability of online resources. If there isn’t a current curriculum or plan from your school, look at the school’s website for links. You can also look at PBS or even museum and zoo websites for ideas.
Social connectivity: Try to maintain contact with family and friends using social media or apps on your digital device. Check in with elderly neighbors or relatives or set up virtual play dates. Try having a dance party with their friends or letting them do school work in groups.
Non-academic screen time: It is inevitable that your child will just need some downtime to watch a show or play a game. Use Common Sense Media to help guide you to appropriate content and don’t forget to co-view or play games together with younger children. Look for online books or podcasts that might be interesting as well.
Limits are still important: To help ease your child’s anxiety during stressful times, good healthy habits are extra important. While screen time might increase, you still want to make sure screen use isn’t interfering with your child’s sleep schedule, eating habits, exercise time, academic time, or getting chores done. You also want to be sure they are not overexposed to the news, which might be scary or hard to process.
Don’t forget exercise: As the weather improves, it will be easier and easier to get kids outside and moving. Take walks, ride bikes or kick a ball around. Try incorporating lessons into a nature walk or go outside for art to find items that can be used for arts and crafts.
Overall, try to structure your days, make lists or goals and be creative. Perfection is not your goal at a time like this – just do your best. Working together, we will get through this situation.