With schools gearing up for more remote learning, technology will play a bigger role in how students learn.
Instead of desks and blackboards, students will use laptops and tablets to complete schoolwork. Devices can make for useful learning tools, especially as schools adapt to limitations made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. But when does screen time cross the line from useful learning tool to something potential harmful to students’ overall health?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has produced age-specific guidelines that can help parents determine if their school-aged children are spending too much time staring at screens.
For children between 2 and 5, the AAP recommends parents limit screen time for this age group to one hour per day of high-quality programs. The AAP advises parents to co-view with children in this age group so they can help kids understand what they’re watching and how it applies to the world around them.
The AAP does not provide specific information regarding how many hours children ages 6 and older should use screen media. However, the AAP advises parents to make sure such media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
In addition to following AAP recommendations about screen time as closely as possible, parents can take steps to ensure their children are not spending too much time using their devices.
Promote extracurricular activities. Urging children to participate in activities that do not employ screen media, such as going outside, practicing a musical instrument, drawing or painting or developing another screen-free hobby can be a great way to get kids to put down their devices.
Establish no-device hours at home. The AAP recommends that parents designate certain times of the day as media-free times for the whole family — not just children. Parents can put down their smartphones and tablets and engage with their children without the television on. In addition, make sure devices don’t make it to the dinner table, as nightly, device-free dinners together can help families build strong bonds.
Establish media-free zones. Designate certain areas of the home, such as the kitchen and dining room, as device-free zones. Keep devices out of bedrooms unless children need them to do their homework.