Screen time can be a constant source of stress for many families. Setting rules and limits is important (more on that here), but making sure your kids are digitally literate is becoming more important as the world around us becomes more dependent on technology.
Instead of fighting about screen time, think about how you can embrace it to help your kids learn the skills that they will undoubtedly need for future employment in our increasingly connected world. Start focusing on the KIND of screen time they’re getting, and see if you can strike a balance across all 4 categories below.
Your kids can hit all 4 categories by:
- making a movie
- researching a favorite topic online
- emailing a travelogue to grandma during a family vacation
- going outside for a walk with Pokemon GO
Then the next week they can:
- take pictures on a walk (find something in each color of the rainbow) and learn to edit them online to make a rainbow picture book
- try code.org
- have a video call with a cousin across the country
- watch a YouTube show about beavers
There are tons of good learning opportunities available in all of these widely diverse screen time activities. If you have ideas or creative ways you’ve ticked boxes in each of these categories, please share below in the comments to help give other parents ideas!
1. Create Digital Art
There are plenty of artists who still paint with paper and brush, take pictures with film cameras, or write music using a guitar or a piano. But as our world becomes more digital, more and more artists are enhancing their art digitally, or even creating it digitally.
In the business world, presentations, videos, marketing materials etc are largely created digitally.
At school, my kids are using their computers to create materials for presentations and reports online more and more often.
So instead of saying no to screen time, try asking your kids to use a screen to be creative, or to enhance their creativity. Just remember, art is never wrong! Let your child explore a wide range of digital creativity options.
Click here for lots of great recommendations for digital creativity apps >>
2. Digital Learning
Kids can definitely get too much screen time, especially time spent vegging out or playing endless games. But screens can also connect your kids to a wealth of information that just wasn’t available when we were kids. Learn how to harness those screens and teach your kids how much more there is out there than games!
3. Connecting Digitally
Although kids can sometimes seem to disappear into their screens, we shouldn’t forget the wonderful way computers have helped us stay connected. I love how much easier it is to stay connected to my family, compared to when my only choices were long distance phone calls or snail mail (which we just called “mail” back then). Embrace the screens by using them to keep your kids connected to their friends and family.
I also firmly believe that our kids’ generation will be working remotely (rather than in person) far more often than our generation has. The skills they gain by learning to communicate and collaborate via voice chat, video chat, and texts are going to serve them well in their work lives down the road.
Click here for some great recommendations for embracing these communication tools >>
Even screen time that appears to be ‘just for fun’ can have solid educational value.
- Watching TV can include educational programming
- Playing video games can range widely. They can promote creativity (Minecraft), puzzle solving (Portal), cooperation, strategy, and communication.
- Mobile games range widely just like other video games. Think about a game like Pokemon GO that incorporates physical movement!
- Music videos are a great way to explore music and musical tastes. If this is what your kid loves, encourage them to read more about the history of a favorite musician, or create music of their own.
- YouTube (and even TikTok) can be a scary place, but also an incredibly educational place as well depending on how you use it. Spend some time looking at YouTube with your kids, learn what they like, and work together to find channels and material that they like that is also educational. You may even find new interests to give you ideas about books they might like, or other educational websites or activities that they might enjoy.