By Brandy Browne
A study polling parents by Global Myopia Awareness Collection (GMAC) found that screentime among all ages of children has nearly doubled since the pandemic began (Dolan, 2020). For example, the number of children aged 5-10 engaging in four or more hours of screen time per day prior to the pandemic was 17%…post pandemic, it has gone up to a whopping 44%. Other age brackets had similar results. Why is this happening, and what can parents do to combat excessive screen time?
To begin with, students across the country shifted to distance and virtual learning last spring and this fall. My own children spend hours on their devices completing their school work every day. To date (December 15, 2020), my district has spent less than a month in in person classes. The rest of this year has been completed virtually. Couple that with a lack of in person gatherings and so many recreational activities being closed or having limited access, that is A LOT of time children are filling with a device.
As a mom, I have noticed that once my kids are on a device for school, it is a very easy transition over to YouTube or online games once assignments are finished. I have had to be intentional about incorporating activities that do not involve a screen into our evenings and weekends. Recently, we built gingerbread houses together. Today, in the middle of the day, we took a break to play in the snow. They played until their little cold fingers could not take it anymore.
Pam Molnar, writer for Calgary’s Child, outlines fifty alternatives to screen time in her article, 50 things to do instead of screen time. On her list are suggestions such as snow graffiti (we had plenty of snow today, so this is a great suggestion), tic tac snow, card games, creating your own board game from pizza boxes, reading a book as a family, make popsicle stick snowflakes, take a hike or go rock climbing, make something for your pet, have an indoor picnic, etc. We are currently raising baby chicks inside because it is too cold to put them outside just yet, and they have provided all kinds of entertainment for our family!
What alternatives to screen time can you think of?
Dolan, S. (2020). Electronic usage nearly doubled among US kids during the pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.emarketer.com/content/electronic-device-usage-nearly-doubled-among-us-kids-during-pandemic
Molnar, P. (2020). 50 things to do instead of screen time. Calgary’s Child. Retrieved from https://www.calgaryschild.com/family-fun/activities/1786-50-things-to-do-instead-of-screen-time