Digital media and the pandemic

Since the spread of COVID became a global pandemic in March, screen time has increased for just about everyone. Including kids. Activities that were previously conducted partly or mostly in-person – school, work, socializing – are now mostly online. Life in quarantine has led many parents to rethink their family screen time rules. This makes sense. We all know that connecting – with education, with peers – is important. And these days the safest way to connect is through digital media.


Finding Balance for your Family

Many parents are relaxing family screen time limits to allow for child remote learning, socializing, and distraction while parents are working. But they’re still seeking the new, pandemic-modified answer to the question, “How much is too much?” time on screens. Of course, there is no single, simple answer. In March, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new digital media guidance for parents in quarantine. The AAP recommended that parents continue to plan screen time and seek off-screen activities for the family. But they also encouraged parents to be flexible about screen use and to seek positive screen activities for children. The most important thing is to find a system that works for your family. A daily schedule and a list of off-screen activities can help parents find a healthy family screen time balance.


A Shared Understanding

Of course, constructing a new family digital media plan is only half the picture. In order to implement the plan, you need a shared family understanding of why it’s important. Some parents will find that a dinnertime conversation about the family screen time schedule and its purpose is enough. Others may find that multiple conversations, or more structured conversation strategies like Collaborative Problem Solving, are needed. Open, direct discussions about advantages and disadvantages of digital media use can yield benefits for the entire family. Parents and children will have a better sense of each other’s concerns and perspectives. And kids who understand the reasoning behind the family digital media plan may even begin to manage screen time on their own.