Before we were being required to practice social distancing, I along with many child therapists recommended limited screen time. Screens were getting in the way of families connecting. These days most families are at home, social distancing and disconnecting from others.
Although, we need to be physically distant for safety reasons. We still need to socialize for our emotional well being. These days, it is technology that is helping us stay connected and sane.
Over the past few weeks, it seems like almost everybody and everything has moved online.
Schoolwork and classes are now being done online. Preschools are holding circle time and learning activities for little ones online. Studios are offering their yoga classes live online. Families are participating in church virtually. Memes shared on social media by friends and family are keeping us laughing and entertained during these hard times.
Teens (aka technology gurus) are in the stage of life in which socializing and spending time with their friends is extremely important. They need to use technology to stay connected.
So what should parents do about screens during these times of crisis?
Find a happy medium. Extremes are not healthy nor appropriate.
It should never be a free for all, unlimited screen time is not advisable. Kids and teens are not able to make the judgment call themselves on what is too much screen time.
Kids need to eat, sleep, exercise, do chores, keep up with school work, engage, and connect with family and friends.
Therefore the key is to find a balance.
Be FLEXIBLE with the screen time limits. Figure out how they can fit screen time in their daily routine.
This is not the time to go military style with rules around screens which has always been a source of conflict and tension for most families anyway.
This is a stressful time for everyone.
As adults, our coping skills tend to be more sophisticated than those of children and adolescents. This is hard on them too.
Kids are missing their friends, their playdates, and going to the playground. They are missing their coaches, and their extracurricular activities. Teens are missing the freedom to go visit their friends’ house, hang out at the mall and the movies. Some missed out on Spring Break plans with their friends and sadly some will not go to their senior prom.
There is so much unknown, we do not know when it will be safe again to go back to school or work. We do not know what the “new normal” is going to look like. We are all grieving so much of our lives before the pandemic.
- Check-in with your child.
- Validate your kids’ feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, and anxiety.
- Take time to connect with them.
- Play with your little ones, cuddle, read to them, and lay with them. Let them pick out their outfits— who cares no one will see them!
- This is an opportunity to get to know your teen better. So, try to enter their world (slowly), find out what they are listening to nowadays (do not judge, no smirking), what they are watching (join them, be quiet), and make Tik Tok videos with them (remember to warm up and stretch).
This pandemic has shaken all of us to our core, threatening our sense of security and safety.
We are in this together, physically apart but emotionally united.
Technology is technically (no pun intended) helping us connect. We must find a way to include it so that it serves its purpose.
If you or your child is struggling during this pandemic and need support. Mental health professionals are also online, we are here to help.