Can screen time be a positive thing for children?

screentime-300x251-9545707Lockdown has meant lots of screen time

We’ve heard an awful lot about the negative effects of screen time and with lockdown, many children have spent a lot of time in front of screens learning and playing.

I’m sure you have read Facebook comments where parents have taken their children out on lovely nature walks and to do craft and baking which is wonderful, but we can also ask ourselves “Can screen time be a positive thing for my child?”

Some fun screen based activities you can do with your child.

Educational Games

1. There are lots of educational games out there. I used BBC Bitesize and other games when my son was asked to work on particular grammatical areas. Shooting letters with cannons and walking through a haunted house after choosing the correct punctuation seemed to be much less of a chore than looking at a grammar book. Our touch-typing courses are full of games too – there is quite a sense of achievement when you beat the game.

Exercise online

2. Children can be encouraged to exercise online – Joe Wicks workouts were very popular for both children and adults. You can also play interactive games which encourage children to exercise too e.g. Just dance and Nintento Wii games.

Virtual Museums

3. Online you can access and look around virtual museums, watch nature in the wild through cameras and even visit a space ship.

Using screen time for technology

4. Screen time can be good when technology is used as a tool. Children can learn life skills such as emailing, using video communications such as google classroom and zoom, can learn to save documents and use different software to produce school work.

Perfect for communication

5. You can keep in touch and communicate with older children via text message – always useful when they are out and about. Sometimes a child might say something in a text that they can’t say in person.

6. Screens can be a way to communicate with friends during lockdown – online gaming, skype and zoom parties.

Touch typing to help with handwriting

7. Using a keyboard is an easier way at times to get thoughts on paper. For children struggling with handwriting, it is a quicker way to get those words out of their head and they can then rearrange them as needed. If they learn to touch type, they can get those words down faster and more accurately too!

Kid friendly websites

8. Screen time can be educational. There are so many things to discover online, on kid friendly websites. For those without set school lessons during lockdown, YouTubers like “English with Holly”, science, maths, language and art teachers appeared online. We also had BBC Bitesize providing a series of lessons for children of different ages.  My son is now doing weekend art classes with author and artist Simon Hetherington, as he draws characters from popular computer games. It’s a start!

Staying safe online

9. How do I know what is appropriate for my child to watch? The site Home – Plugged In  provides practical advice for TV, movies, games, and books. You can read the reviews and decide with your children which movies, books, games, and TV shows they can watch.
Common Sense Media  –  learn from parents and other children what they think the real rating of a film is. Cobra Kai is rated fifteen, yet a lot of younger children are watching it. Why?

Setting boundaries

10. You can try to set boundaries. In our house, the children have a timer and once their time is up, that is the end of gaming time.

11. You can limit what your child sees and their screen time with applications such as Qustodio or by setting up a Microsoft family group.

With all things there is a sense of balance but screen time is not just a matter of cons, there are quite a few pro’s too!

Kirsty Duffey from the Type IT! Team.

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