• Danielle Mussafi

Isolation Screen Time Is Different Than “Normal” Screen Time

It’s almost cliche to note just how much our world has shifted these past few weeks. Changes once thought of as impossible (schools closing, retail business shuttered) have all occured and we are all still figuring out how to handle the new reality. I don’t think it will come as a surprise to note that screen usage for us all - kids and adults - is skyrocketing. Where we used to debate children's screen time usage to the minute, we are now relying on screens to not only entertain and occupy their time for a little each day, but also use the screens to educate as well as be the sole way to connect to our friends and family. But how much is appropriate?

The New York Times has a helpful article reminding us to not stress so much about just how much time we are spending on screens noting that all screen time is not created equal. Certain TV shows may be more beneficial than others, educational games are of a different variety, and FaceTime-ing with grandma and grandpa, or connecting to friends in a Zoom call, is of course different, too. The experts interviewed say to NOT count minutes (or hours) but to focus on the three C’s: child, content and context.

1. You know your child best. How much screen time and what kind of media can they handle without becoming disregulated? What times of days work for you and for them? Does it affect their sleep? Do certain shows bring out more behavioral issues than others? What works for another kid, may not for yours, and vice versa.

2. Content quality matters. Try to prioritize quality content from reputable sources such as PBS Kids. Common Sense Media is a fantastic resource to view age-based recommendations and reviews. Livestreams from zoos or aquariums are also a great resources.

3. Offer context by engaging with your kids regarding the media they are consuming. This may not be able to happen if you are using the screen to offer a distraction while you are on a work call, but in other moments you can discuss what it is they are viewing and relate it to their lives. Ask questions about characters or plot points. Ask why they enjoy the show. You can also create real-life bonding and educational moments. Perhaps you can watch a Bob Ross video and then paint together. Or view a cooking show before making dinner.

Here is the article to delve deeper:


On another, but related note, here is a chart showing how much remote learning is appropriate per age (it is related as the remote-learning is most likely screen-based!)

From the Illinois State Board of Education:

As we are now a month in to this remote-learning period, we at Crayon Power feel like we are ready to add more offerings in order to connect and spend time with our friends. We have learned the technology, settled somewhat into our rhythms, and our friends have gotten a bit more used to it all, as well! As we add more chances to connect virtually, we do also want to remain mindful not to overwhelm or add too much. We hope to find the right balance!

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