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Parents: 4 Tips For Setting Screen Time Limits Pandemic

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

With a summer overshadowed by COVID-19, parents are taking a hard look at how to make the right decisions regarding their kids’ increased reliance on screens— which are helping to maintain a sense of normalcy during this socially-distanced time— while also finding the right balance with other important activities.

TV, streaming platforms, and app downloads have all seen notable in their use since the pandemic started, and children’s television viewing has also skyrocketed as parents across the world are increasingly turning to screens and technology to entertain and engage their kids.

To get further insights into kids’ screen time habits and behaviors during the pandemic, Brainly the world’s largest online learning community for students, parents, and teachers— surveyed 5,000 U.S. students (grades 6th-12th, ages 11-18) on its platform.

Some shocking insights were discovered. Consider this: About 25% of kids spend more than 9 hours every day looking at a screen. That screen time has led to just over 50% of students reporting headaches, soreness, and dry or irritated eyes. Since the pandemic began, students said they are spending at least 50% more time in front of screens daily.

Given the unprecedented situation we are facing which has brought on copious new challenges, the traditional boundaries and limits for screen time need to be reassessed.

So, how can parents handle screen time during the pandemic? Eric Oldfield, Chief Business Officer of Brainly and father of two school-age daughters, has a few tips for parents to consider when deciding the best course of action.

  • Not all screen time is created equal. It’s important for parents to assess how their child is spending their screen time with this in mind. Consuming content to gain information and get creative, as well as collaborating or socializing with their peers, is a great way for kids to maintain connections and continue learning during this unique time. However, time spent playing non-educational video games and watching mindless TV should be more closely monitored. 



  • Designate specific times the entire family unplugs. To avoid battles, it’s best to establish and communicate boundaries before your children start using devices, and sticking to those limits as much as possible. Children, especially younger ones, often crave structure, especially during unpredictable times. It’s still good, for instance, for everyone to eliminate screen use for at least one hour or two before bedtime to avoid impacting sleep cycles. 



  • Make sure screentime consumption is done healthily. Parents may want to consider having their children use blue screen glasses or switching their computer display screen settings to make sure their eyes are protected from harmful blue light. It’s also a good idea to ensure kids don’t sit too close to the screen, get up for a break at least once an hour, and sit with good posture while on the computer for hours on end doing schoolwork. 



  • Come up with a plan that makes sense for your children. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else and are therefore the best person to decide what and how much media use is the right amount. Remember that screens are no longer the enemies of social interaction, learning, and productivity. Rather, they are enabling people around the world to work and learn and communicate with others during this uncertain time.

    The real enemies of healthy development in children are the same as adults: a sedentary lifestyle, social isolation, and distractions from schoolwork and learning. Using screens too much can contribute to all of these problems – but they can also counter them.  

  • The COVID-19 pandemic could last for a long time, so as families create new routines, it’s always best to focus on habits that are practical and sustainable. Above all else, don’t feel guilty about turning to screens more than you used to.

    This Is How Excess Screen Time Impacts Your Children

    child with video game

    This is the first generation learning to use technology before they walk or talk.  What are the long-term health implications? 

    Understandably, 70% of parents surveyed are worried how too much digital screen time will impact their children’s health, mind and bodies.

    Studies show that children will suffer from digital addiction, computer vision syndrome (CSV) and more.

    The How Too Much Screen Time Affects Kids INFOGRAPHIC created by WhatIsDryEye.com outlines the problems and offers solutions.

    Here are just a few examples from the infographic:

    ·         Nearly 40% of children spend at least three hours per day on digital devices

    • Digital Addiction: Winning a video game releases dopamine similar to drug, gambling and sexual addictions.
    • Nearsightedness: Has increased from 25% to 41% in the last 30 years and too much screen time and not enough sunlight are key reasons.
    • Dry Eye Syndrome: Caused by blinking 60% less when using a digital device.
    • 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away.

    Three Ways to Reduce Screen Time This Summer

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    Brain drain is common in the Summer. It’s a time to unwind and have unfettered access to computers and games. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, yeah, but it should have some limits.

    These days,  kids are getting 400% more screen time than they should.

    According to Dr. Robert Melillo, co-founder of Brain Balance Achievement Centers, a holistic, drug-free approach to addressing behavioral, social, and learning difficulties—the average kid has 7.5 hours of screen time per day, compared to the recommended 1.5 hours. Studies show that excess screen time inhibits right brain development—leading to short attention spans and inhibited social development.

    Here are his suggestions on how to ease up the screen time this Summer:

    1. SCREEN-FREE ACADEMICS

    Many parents turn to “educational” apps to feel better about screen time, but a screen is still a screen. To encourage traditional childhood learning, present your kids with an array of books or academic workbooks, or take them to museums.

    2. SUMMER CAMP

    Try enrolling your child in a summer camp, but be sure the camp is strictly screen-free. There are many creative camps that include arts and crafts, musical theater, and dancing, or a sports-oriented program that encourages outdoor activities like swimming and soccer.

    3. ALTERNATIVE INDOOR ACTIVITIES

    Screens can be used as an easy tactic to calm a difficult child. If your child tends to lack focus, they might also get bored while playing games. You may find yourself giving in and allowing them to watch more TV or iPad shows than you would normally approve of. Outdoor activities are an alternative way to pique their interest.

    Since the right hemisphere of the brain regulates impulsivity, attention, and socially appropriate behavior, a child with decreased right brain activity may be hyperactive, oppositional, disruptive, and often distracted. To see if your child’s screen use might be linked to a brain imbalance, take this simple online assessment: https://www.brainbalancecenters.com/our-program/childs-personalized-plan/online-assessment.