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Screen time during the crisis

14 April 2020
A straw poll of the (virtual) Family5 office revealed that we are all using our devices more in these difficult times - to keep connected and to help with our kids’ homeschooling, sure… but also to tune out and switch off…
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Modeling self-regulation

As we all adjust to what we could not imagine we’d ever be adjusting to, it’s understandable that many children (and parents) will be on screens more. Shelter in place and social distancing rules apply, and it’s not like being stuck at home due to bad weather. Most importantly, I encourage parents to not be too hard on themselves. Adding screen time may be part of adapting to a profoundly unique situation, but we can watch how we are going about it.
Before coronavirus, I would talk to parents about the importance of teaching children self regulation skills (i.e. calming down, deep breathing) which are not connected to screens. This is even more important now as parents are experiencing increased anxiety. In other words, can we model to our children other healthy ways of dealing with ((virus related)) anxiety than just turning on screens? Yes!
An important question is: How do children see us grown-ups practicing our own self regulation in the age of Covid-19? Exercising or doing yoga at home, taking pictures or making art, reading a book, playing board games together, walking the dog (away from groups). Children are watching how we adults are handling our anxiety, and practicing how we navigate this together will inform our children how they handle other challenging situations later in life.
If more screen time feels inevitable (for now), try to find activities or games which promote connectivity and interaction with friends, family, and community. That’s a positive! To search for more online activities/apps which promote critical thinking and creative learning, I recommend the awesome search engine at Commonsensemedia.org and the wonderful parenting tips at Cyberwise.org.
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Practice using technology positively with the help of Family5. Explore the app to discover advice from some of the world’s top parenting experts and challenge your family to adopt one of the good technology goals.
About the author
Richard is an experienced parent coach with over 25 years' experience in school, legal and private family counseling. He is based in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. but works remotely with families around the world.
This post originally appeared in Coach4Parents on 26 March 2020