We have a lot of parents who have come to us lately with significant concerns about managing screen time.
Before The Pandemic
For most people, the norm has changed. I remember that, back prior to the pandemic, parents actually monitored and limited screen time! But these days since some of our online learning is going to be 6 hours a day, these kids are going to be getting a minimum of 6 hours of screen time a day. And if they aren’t able to go to their friends’ houses, they may be talking to their friends on an iPad or something like it—and that will be additional screen time!
Screen Are Necessary Now
Those things that have to be done on the screen, have to be done on the screen. In cases where we have to maintain virtual learning because of health conditions, there is not an option.
However, it’s important that when you do not have to be on a screen that you do things outside—biking, walking, lots of movement and motor activities. Movement is what makes us feel calm and regulated! If we are not moving, we get fatigued. It’s actually very fatiguing to not have enough movement.
We already know that our kids who have sensory issues need sensory breaks. If you are not taking those sensory breaks, your kids’ attitudes are going to change. You’re going to see a lot more difficult behavior!
What Can You Do Away With?
My recommendation is that you evaluate what is critical screen time that you have to have, and what you can do away with. Tell your kids to go old school and call their friends on the phone! Even if it’s an iPhone or an Android, don’t FaceTime them—call them! Put them on a speaker if necessary. These days I see people who are walking and working, doing conference calls with earbuds! You can take the dog on a walk and still talk to a friend!
Make sure you are balancing your time. I know there is going to be more screen time now than there ever was, but it doesn’t have to be for every single thing. Those of you who are working virtually know how fatiguing the screen time is. It’s the same for our kids. I would work really hard on reinforcing our kids’ ability to be attentive during school screen time, but also building in those movement breaks that they are going to need. They may need them every 15-30 minutes!
Your therapists can help you with this. We’ve done modifications to people’s chairs where we put a Theraband on a chair for them to bounce on. We’ve had kids sit on a disc seat or a yoga ball. There are many things we can suggest to help with your modifications! But I recommend as little screen time as possible, outside of what absolutely has to be done. Save that for their learning!
We hope this is helpful. Please reach out to let us know how we can help you!