Parents of grade school-age children are having a lot thrown at them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are they either being asked to work remotely or laid off from their jobs entirely, but they also suddenly find themselves being asked to take a much larger role in their children’s education.
This is a lot to handle for a parent at any time, especially when there are so many other sources of stress and anxiety in the world right now. A recent NBC news story highlighted how parents have reported feelings of guilt that they are allowing much more screen time for their children than they normally do, just to be able to have a break or to have some moments to get some work done.
But as the potential length of school closures and social distancing requirements continues to stretch out, the message parents need to hear from educators and medical professionals is this: don’t worry about it. Allowing extra screen time is not going to hurt your children.
“Brain drain” not a concern
There is plenty of research, including some recently presented on the TODAY show, that has consistently shown screen exposure does not have adverse effects on school-aged children and their development.
What’s important, especially during times like these, is not worrying so much about how much time children are spending in front of screens, but rather how they’re engaging with the media and the kind of media they’re consuming.
For instance, you might want to put time limits on how much time children spend scrolling through TikTok or watching YouTube videos. But there are certain types of screen-based activities that can be very beneficial. Certain types of online activities can help children have an outlet for socialization and cooperation in what can be an otherwise very isolating time. There are also many outlets for creativity and learning through apps, the web and television that parents should feel free to let their children explore at their leisure.
Parents will need to relax their rules on screen time anyway, because kids will be required to use digital technology to access and complete their schoolwork. But the extra learning and socialization opportunities presented by digital technology makes it important for parents to allow their children to explore the online opportunities available to them—with parental controls and supervision, of course.
Meanwhile, parents should still encourage their children to read books, get exercise and engage in creative projects.
Flex Academies ONE is now available, with a wide variety of online programs to keep students engaged in learning and socialization in a structured, supervised environment during this time of social distancing. For more information about the available programs, contact us today.