Back to School: Managing Children’s Screen Time After Summer Vacation
- Written by Belinda Elliott
- Category: Kids & Family
- Published: 09 September 2019
Students in Hampton Roads returned to the classroom last week, and some parents may have breathed a sigh of relief. As parents work to transition from their summer routine to a routine for the new school year, media researcher Eric Rasmussen, Ph.D., encourages families to not only consider meals, homework and bedtimes, but to also think about how their children consume media.
Summer routines may be full of movies, TV shows, video games and other sessions of “screen time.” Rasmussen suggests parents may want to help their children reset their media habits as they begin a new school year. In an article for the PBS for Parents website, the researcher and father of four shares three ways his family uses media throughout the year, including as a way to relax after school, as a learning tool and as a family activity.
The New Normal, a research report from Common Sense Media, explores how smartphones and other mobile devices have changed families' morning and evening routines and in-person relationships. It’s not surprising that their findings indicated both teens and parents feel distracted by a device at least once a day and that both groups always check their mobile device at least once during the night, impacting their sleep.
However, spending time on screens isn’t always negative. Research has shown that this new technology can help kids learn and connect. Children’s media expert Sara DeWitt explained this idea in 2017 during her Ted Talk “3 Fears About Screen Time For Kids -- and Why They’re Not True." You can watch it below.
In a video report from NPR last year, Anya Kamenetz, author of The Art of Screen Time, suggested three rules for media consumption: Enjoy screens, not too much, and mostly together.
Ultimately, screen time is a personal choice for each family based on the needs of their children. As a new school year gets into full swing, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the habits in your household and determine some new routines.
Here are a few key suggestions to help you get started:
Create screen time rules that work for your family. You know your children best.
Protect your children’s sleep time by sticking to established bedtimes and ensuring devices are turned off for a reasonable amount of time before bed (and that they stay off during the night). This may be a good habit for adults in the house as well!
Keep children’s time online safe by teaching them the importance of privacy and warning them about online predators. Share age-appropriate information about dangers online and ways they can protect themselves.
Be a good role model. Children learn about interpersonal relationships at home, so ensure that your own screen routines do not distract you from interacting as a family.
Want more advice from experts? Check out these resources:
- Children and Media Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Digital Guidelines: Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Children (American Psychological Association)
- Screen Time and Children: How to Guide Your Child (Mayo Clinic)
- Healthy Habits for TV, Video Games, and the Internet (kidshealth.org)