If you had two hours, you could:
- Watch a movie
- Drive to Grandma’s house (if she lives about 140 miles away)
- Play at the park
- Go out to dinner with your family
- Shop at the mall
- Take a nap
Two hours doesn’t seem like that long of a time, but experts recommend that your children spend “no more than two hours per day” on screens…
…but that was pre-Covid.
Too soon for that comment? Sorry, but we can all admit that screen time has dramatically changed over the past few months!
Since Spring 2020, the world has graciously migrated toward their screens instead of away from them.
- School: virtual classes
- Work: online meetings
- Coffee dates: via Facetime
- Small group: on Zoom
- Church: streamed from YouTube
- Family updates: through Marco Polo
- Friendships: thriving on social media
Nearly everything transitioned to an online platform as social distancing measures increased. Now, more than ever, our children live in a screen-based world. Will the future revert from technology? That seems unlikely.
Instead of commanding our kids to limit the length of time their eyeballs stare at a digital screen, let’s instead equip them with healthy ways to manage a technology-driven world.
Model healthy screen time habits
Remember when your child was a toddler and would mimic the way you grab your car keys, fling your jacket on the chair, answer the phone, or root for your favorite sports team? While they may not act like your mini-me, they still observe you.
How are you handling the increase in screen time? Are you glued to your laptop? Addicted to your cell phone? On social media nonstop?
Make sure your kids notice when you’re away from technology. And if you’re struggling, admit that to your family. Even growing aware of your patterns is a healthy habit to model!
Plan family time away from screens
Don’t get me wrong, family movie night is fun! But this season may be a good time to start a new tradition.
- Take a walk every night after dinner.
- Go to the park on Saturday mornings.
- Visit the swimming pool (indoor or outdoor) on Friday nights.
- Schedule a board game night once a week.
- Plan a weekend getaway to a nearby national park, beach, mountain, or lake.
- Pick a new restaurant to try every month.
- Check your town’s calendar for upcoming events (like a Halloweek hayride, Christmas market, Easter picnic, or Summer BBQ).
Separate work/school from fun
Virtual learning and online work are requirements in this season of life. Help create distinct spheres of required technology use vs desired technology use.
For example, limit the hours of 8am-2pm (or the time your child is logged into virtual school) to school and educational apps. Break up the day with lunch, then establish a nature outing after that long school session (see more below). Block a little bit of time before or after dinner for other tech activities, such as:
- Time for your kids to video call their friends or family.
- Movies or television.
- Games or apps.
- Social media.
While technology allows life to bear some sense of normalcy right now, it also places a burden on our bodies. Our eyes are focusing on a lit-up screen just inches away from our face. We are usually sitting or slouching. It requires us to be stagnant and immobile.
Redeem your bodies with a nature break! No, not potty breaks. I mean to get outside.
- Walk to the end of your street, or even just to your mailbox.
- Sit outside for thirty minutes, even while on your laptop.
- Plan lunch or dinner on your patio.
- Have your kids take a few minutes to ride their bikes or scooters, jump on the trampoline, draw with chalk, or blow bubbles. Anything for a few minutes of exercise and Vitamin D!
Teach interpersonal skills
While this pandemic has already been a tragedy in so many ways, let’s not allow it to tragically impair our interpersonal skills. Continue to diligently model and teach your little ones how to make eye contact, say “please” and “thank you,” and hold a basic conversation.
Discuss the dilemma of reading facial expressions through a face mask. Talk about how to properly express different emotions. And remind your kids that they do not need to fear relationships with people they know and love.
Pick your reasonable balance
Parents, this is a tough season! You are juggling life like an expert juggler, tossings things in the air as you catch others, always precariously wondering if something might accidentally slip through your grip.
Don’t believe the lie that you need to balance the million and one things presented to you. These digital suggestions are not like more balls being tossed into your juggling motion. Instead, consider what you can reasonably include in your life.
Do you need a lunch break outside? Then eat on the patio with your kids.
Do you need to separate online work and play? Establish a family balance.
Do you need more family activities? Schedule weekly family fun.
Remember, it’s not about perfectly juggling every ball thrown at you. This is about picking the balls that are most important to you, and finding a healthy way to juggle those. Balance is key!
Are you struggling to find balance? Is depression causing you to not even juggle a single ball? Are your anxieties causing a frantic pace of balls whizzing through the air? We can help. Contact us today so one of our team members can come alongside you in this season.Teen Social Anxiety