Tips for parents

Guide pour les enfants de l’ère numérique : Gérer le temps d’écran des enfants

Guide for Parents in the Digital Age: Managing screen-time for primary school kids and tweens.
27 August 2021

In today’s digital age, adults AND children exposure to a barrage of types of digital media in their daily lives. Social Media, Entertainment Apps, Video Games, Tablets, and Smart Phones, the list goes on! It is both a necessary tool for productivity and learning and a source of entertainment and potential distraction. Eliminating screen time is nearly impossible, but finding a healthy balance between online and offline activities is possible.

Screen Time for Primary-Aged Children

One of the best places to start for younger students is to teach them digital citizenship skills and be safe online. Digital safety includes understanding the importance of privacy. Make sure your children know that people are not always who they say they are, and never give out personal information. Never send texts or photos without permission. It’s also important to teach students to have a good mix of online and offline activities to remain healthy and happy. When choosing media for young children, look for non-violent, educational, interactive, and prosocial content. Suppose parents set boundaries and guidelines for children early and provide appropriate supervision. In that case, students will not resent these boundaries as they grow older and desire more freedom and time spent online.

Screen Time for Tween and Teenage Students

Did you know that 1 in 4 adolescents said they are “constantly connected” to the internet? While more and more learning activities require technology, too much screen time between school and online social activities can get in the way of other activities important to students’ well-being, including exercise, sleep, and in-person social interactions. Help students reflect on how they can create their plan for taking screen time breaks and decide as a family when screens are okay (free time/earned time) and when they are not (family mealtimes, after bedtime). Social media can be an important place for older students to connect with friends via pictures and texts. However, it can also be a place of distraction, pressure, and the appearance of negative feelings associated with feeling left out or body image, to name a few. Parents can talk with their older children about the positive and negative effects of social media in their lives and develop a plan to help adolescents identify feelings associated with screen time and what to do if the emotions skew more negative than positive.

Although screen time and technology can create feelings of connectedness and increase student engagement with friends and learning opportunities, it is crucial to learn how to balance this with screen-free activities to develop a healthy and balanced lifestyle, even from a very early age.