In the spring of 2021, we had the chance to chat with Diana Graber, the founder of Cyber Civics and Cyberwise. As a digital literacy expert, mom and author of Raising Humans in a Digital World, Diana has a great deal of insight into screen time, so we asked her how COVID-19 had changed our relationships with technology. Here’s what she said:
“I always try to look at the positive side of things. A lot of parents that were reticent or scared of screen time have been able to say, “Gosh, where would we be without it?” That’s because now, kids are getting their education and connecting with friends and loved ones via screens. In that respect, it’s been good because people are seeing that, when used well, screens are awesome.
But on the other hand, it is causing a lot of us to spend more time on screens than we would like. So as we transition out of the pandemic, it’s going to be a little bit of a trick to get kids back to appreciating real life and connecting with real people and doing things off-screen as well.”
So as we transition out of the pandemic, it’s going to be a little bit of a trick to get kids back to appreciating real life and connecting with real people and doing things off-screen as well.
It’s true that screen time was a lifesaver for many families through the pandemic, helping us safely connect with loved ones, work remotely and stave off boredom when other activities weren’t available. Out of necessity, a lot of us relaxed screen time rules and embraced technology like never before. But, now that summer is here and things are slowly returning to normal, many parents are eager to dial back device time and reintroduce other activities.
We’ve rounded up links to the best resources, insights and advice to help parents find a new, post-pandemic screen time balance.
Julie Jargon, Wall Street Journal
Key takeaway: One of the biggest drawbacks of increased screen time is that it can often take away from family conversation time. Instead of focusing on “reducing screen time,” think about carving out more time to talk as a family. Designated screen-free zones and dedicated “tech sabbaths” can help reset tech expectations—hopefully without too much revolt!
Awesome tidbit: “The biggest thing you don’t want to do is say that you’re taking something away. You want to position it as ‘We’re going to get something back.’”
Key takeaway: Patience, patience, patience! Weaning kids off screens won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. The key is persistence and resilience—and not taking yourself too seriously.
Awesome tidbit: “Try to think of it like potty training—it takes time, ups and downs, team work, a sense of humour and lots of encouragement. And potty training was worth it for a life without nappies, right? Think of a world where your child actually hears you when you say their name, doesn’t act up as much, and plays outside! Amazing.”
Meghan Leahy, The Washington Post
Key takeaway: The truth is that reducing screen time is a doozy of a task, so parents need a PLAN: Be Proactive, Logical, At Ease and Nurturing. It’s important to get the entire family on the same page about screen time expectations ahead of time, so rules are easier to stick to day-to-day.
Awesome tidbit: “One of the biggest mistakes that parents make around screens is that we want to dole out commands and demands on the spot, and we expect our children to happily acquiesce. However, we need a proactive meeting that creates workable goals for our children.”
Leah Campbell, Forbes
Key takeaway: Don’t go cold turkey when you’re trying to reduce screen time. Baby steps are key, and parents can start by co-watching screens with their kids and suggesting alternate activities they can do together. And don’t forget, the power is in parents’ hands to set the new rules and navigate them with their kids.
Awesome tidbit: “Honestly, I think it is important for parents and providers to be realistic and forgiving. If there is a net reduction in screen time, then you are moving in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be all at once or right away.”
If you’re looking for an app that lets you enjoy technology together as a family, Kinzoo is screen time well spent! It’s free to download in the App Store and Play Store.
Image Credit: Reeal Studio / Shutterstock