Coronavirus school systems closures have altered the way we live, work, socialize, and educate our kids. Adjusting to new societal norms hasn’t been easy. We’re coming to terms with the different ways our kids are using screens to learn and interact with friends. If managing family screen time during coronavirus feels like a struggle, I’m here to help!
The screen time rules that once worked in our homes may no longer apply and that’s ok. Being confined to our homes and social distancing have drastically changed our lives and screen time rules have to reflect our new circumstances.
I firmly believe we need to stop feeling guilty, beating ourselves up, and creating more stress because of arguments over screen time. We have to be kind to ourselves. We need our kids see that we can be flexible.
5 Tips for Managing Screen Time During Coronavirus
Managing screen time during coronavirus doesn’t always feel easy. My 5 quick and easy things are designed to end the guilt and struggle so we can focus on more important things.
Instead of setting limits based on hours and minutes like you might have done in the past, come to terms with the fact that your kids will be spending more time in front of screens.
There are new requirements by school systems to attend class via Zoom or Google Hangouts and complete assignments online. Using email and chat windows for teacher help have changed how our kids are learning during coronavirus school closures. This is a huge shift from just doing homework online or using smartphones for socializing with friends outside the school day.
It’s hard to associate an amount of time our kids will be spending in front of screens and that has to be ok.
Revisit Screen Time Rules
Just because our kids are expected to be online for schoolwork, doesn’t mean they should be given unlimited screen time.
There’s no better time than the present to revisit your family’s technology rules. Suddenly we’re forced to telework while our schools turn to online platforms for learning. Social interaction from a screen becomes a way to practice safe social distancing.
The technology rules you once had in place for your family need to change.
Use tools like The Smart Talk to inspire conversation about how technology will be used in your home during the coming weeks. The Smart Talk is a free online tool that helps families create customized family agreements about technology use. Sit down with your kids to discuss topics like Safety & Privacy, Screen Time, Social Media, Apps & Downloads, Texting & Calling, Reputation & Respect, Online Videos & Cameras to establish new rules regarding digital devices and screen time.
For more information and a full review of The Smart Talk, read my post: How to Establish Ground Rules About Technology Together
Understand the Importance of Socializing Through Screen Time
Our kids are craving social interaction in an age of social distancing. They miss school for the regular interactions they’re used to having with their friends. They wish they could see their grandparents without putting them at risk.
Fortunately, technology tools can help them stay connected in ways we never had as kids. It’s important to understand our kids need screens to safely interact for the connections they crave.
Here are some ways that kids are socializing through screen time:
- Facetiming with a friend
- Engaging in group texts
- Keeping Snapstreaks alive
- Sharing TikTok videos and DMing each other funny video clips through Instagram
- Making plans with friends to meet in an online chat room to play video games together
- Setting up a Zoom meeting or Google Hangout with friends, grandparents, and classmates
Even though you may not have allowed your kids to use these platforms before, it’s worth revisiting your rules. Consider what tools your child’s peers are using to interact and what is age appropriate. Set limits based on their need to be social while recognizing the importance of social distancing.
Continue Monitoring Devices
With our kids relying on online learning platforms and screens to socialize, it’s more important than ever to monitor what they’re doing on their devices. Checking in with them regularly, encouraging them to use devices in common spaces, requiring open bedroom doors, and reviewing ratings on the games they’re playing helps but we can’t be everywhere at once.
We’re attempting to work, parent, and educate our kids in a way we’re not used to so get some help from technology tools like Bark.
Bark is a monitoring tool that helps you stay on top of your kids’ online activity and communication without invading their privacy. The Bark app uses artificial intelligence to scan 40 social media platforms, texting, and email accounts for problematic issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, potential drug use, acts of violence, profanity, online predators, thoughts of suicide and depression, and SO much more! To know what is monitored on Android, iOS, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WhatsApp, YouTube, and more, read What Bark Monitors on the Different Platforms.
Bark preserves the autonomy your tween and teen crave by providing alerts via text and email when an issue is detected but doesn’t reveal every sordid detail. The alerts I get provide my kids with more privacy than traditional spot checking their accounts.
It also empowers parents to have tough conversation with kids about these very important issues. Bark alerts come with recommended next steps for how to address and deal with these issues, enabling parents to have critical conversations with our tweens and teens about tough topics, while fostering trust and open communication.
For my full review of Bark, read How Bark Lets You Monitor Your Child’s Smartphone Without Invading their Privacy. Sign up for Bark using my affiliate link and get 20% off your family’s subscription FOR LIFE!
Model & Manage Appropriate Technology Use
Managing tech use is no simple task. Now that we’re so reliant on being online for work and school, it’s more important than ever to model appropriate technology use.
- Block out time to work— If you need to telework, be honest with your kids about your work time. Create a family schedule and block out time to work. Let your kids know when you’ll need to work and what they should do during this time.
- Preserve family meals as screen-free zones as much as possible— If you expect your kids to put down their phones during meals, you need to do the same. Picking up your phone to read a text, refer to an article you’ve read, or to finish an email in front of your kids sends a subliminal message that it’s ok to be on phones at the table.
- Give yourself permission to take breaks— It’s easy for work to creep into family time when working from home but you can keep it at bay with free tools like Gmail Auto Reply, Do Not Disturb, and the Android Wind Down Screen.
In my post, 8 Ways to Manage Daily Tech Use to Regain Control of Your Digital Life, I share more tips and tools for managing daily tech use and feeling less guilt about not being connected 24/7.
This is a trying time so be kind to yourself and show your kids you can be flexible, especially when it comes to screen time. We CAN do this! If you need help, leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter, Instagram, or Instagram. I’m always just a message away!