COVID-19 has compelled many people to spend more time at home with their devices, children included. Kids today have access to high-powered computers, tablets, gaming consoles, and a variety of other electronics. As it is difficult for many kids to get outside and play with their friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, many parents are allowing children extra screen time to compensate.
This overexposure to digital devices could be beneficial in some respects, such as helping children familiarize themselves with technologies they will likely use for the rest of their lives. But it also presents some risks and challenges. Parents should know how to help their children develop good habits when it comes to their devices.
Common Challenges Parents Face During Lockdown
Currently, many schools across the country remain closed, with students attending virtual learning sessions at home under the supervision of their parents. While many parents have the flexibility to participate more actively in their kids’ educations, other parents are not as fortunate. Their work schedules may not be flexible, and they may not have time available to track schoolwork for their kids during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Many school-aged children can no longer participate in sports and other extracurricular activities that may have given some parents extra breathing room to manage work and run their households effectively. Childcare services like daycares and preschools have also closed throughout the country, leaving many parents to supervise very young children while attempting to complete their work responsibilities remotely.
Parents are not only struggling to balance work and their adult obligations in addition to their kids’ educations, but are also having trouble keeping their kids entertained and engaged. When parents turn to additional screen time to keep their kids busy, this can have an unintended effect of manifesting negative device habits, and it increases the risk of children being exposed to objectionable content online.
Should Kids Have Screen Time Limits?
Health care professionals have been studying the effects of screen time on developing minds for decades. Now that digital technology and electronic devices have become so ingrained into everyday life for most people, the potential health effects of excessive screen time are an even more pressing concern for many.
Research continues to support the belief that limiting kids’ access to digital devices tends to lead to the best outcomes later in life. Negative device habits can be challenging to break, so limiting screen time for kids now means they will be more likely to be responsible about screen time in the future. Current events have created a young generation of “coronavirus kids” who have experienced unprecedented shifts in their everyday lifestyles. Still, it’s a good idea for parents to continue limiting their kids’ screen time and helping them find more constructive ways to spend their extra free time during lockdown.
It’s also essential to set good screen time habits for teens during the pandemic lockdown. Teens are more likely than younger children to spend time on the internet and social media, and there are many ways they can be exposed to obscene, upsetting, and even harmful experiences online. Parents with children of all ages should know the risks that come with excessive screen time.
What Are Good Device Habits?
It can be challenging to balance your day-to-day obligations and the need to track your kids’ device usage. The following tips can help you and your children develop healthier habits when it comes to daily device usage:
- It’s essential to know your kids’ daily screen time. Reducing total screen time is one of the best ways you help your child cultivate healthy device usage habits. If your children tend to use devices more during lockdown than previously, it’s a good idea to find out their average daily usage and work on reducing it.
- Screen time at certain points of the day can be detrimental to your child’s health and development. For example, screens available during homework time can become big distractions, and screen time right before bed can interfere with your child’s ability to sleep well. You should take advantage of device control features that allow you to set usage times for your kids’ devices. For example, set your device to prevent turning on or opening applications during certain times of the day, or for the hour or two before bedtime.
- Teaching your children appropriate device manners is important. They should know the appropriate times and places to use their devices, and you need to help them. You can set device usage time, internet usage time, and set appropriate increments to help your children stick to a schedule. This helps them learn the best times to use their devices and to assign purposes to those devices. It also helps you maintain control over their daily screen time.
- Monitor what your children do online. While this may be more difficult for older children and teens, parents should be keenly aware of the sites, applications, games, and other digital platforms their children use at all times. Take advantage of parental control features that will allow you to restrict certain content types, such as graphic violence and pornography. You may even want to completely block specific sites, such as social media platforms that you do not want your child to use.
- There are countless exploitative and harmful programs on the internet that your child may unintentionally download to their devices, potentially jeopardizing their usernames, passwords, and personal information that online predators may attempt to exploit. Use ad-blocking tools to prevent malicious ads from appearing in your child’s browser, and keep track of everything your child downloads to their devices.
- Modern video games commonly allow for the purchase of in-game items and currencies using real money by linking a credit card. Many parents in recent years have incurred massive bills due to their children clicking away at mobile games with in-app purchases, not realizing they were spending actual money. Spend time getting to know your kids’ gaming systems and look for purchasing options. Turn off in-app purchasing for mobile games and do not allow your children to use your credit card information without your supervision if they want to make digital purchases for the games they enjoy.
- Teach your children how to protect themselves and their personal information online. Some of the most important habits every child should learn is how to tell the difference between safe sites and risky sites and when it’s safe to input personal information on the web.
Netsanity provides these and other features that can not only help kids stay safer online and have more enjoyable experiences on their devices but also help them develop healthier device usage habits for years to come. Visit us online to learn more about the available features and programs from Netsanity.