Owenz runs a website and Facebook page dedicated to screen-free parenting, and suggests family board games, COVID-safe outside play, and a useful mnemonic device as helpful tools parents can apply to combat possible vision and posture issues that may result from too much sedentary time with screens.
“We use the acronym S.P.O.I.L. — for Social-activities, Play-based activities that are freely chosen by the child, Outdoor activities, Independent work and chores that the child participates in, and Literacy-based activities where the child is reading or being read to, or listening to an audio podcast or audio book,” she said.
Another major component to building, maintaining, and monitoring healthy screen-time habits, and your child’s overall well-being during the pandemic, is sleep.
“Set a bedtime and adhere to it,” said Katherine Dahlsgaard, a licensed cognitive and behavioral psychologist in private practice based in Philadelphia. “Teenagers are going to bed later, and they’re sleeping more during the pandemic, we have good data on that. And that may actually be a good thing.”
One positive outcome of remote learning at home, according to Dahlsgaard, is that children no longer need to catch a bus or a train to make it to school on time. That makes getting a good night’s sleep easier.
“We have a nation of teenagers that is chronically under-slept. So it would make sense that teenagers … get up later now because their commute time to virtual learning is 12 seconds,” Dahlsgaard said. “However, I think parents are using good judgment, which is if you have a teenager staying up until 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning, well, that’s too much screen time.”