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Who Wants Guilt-Free Screen Time for Kids? Everybody

Learning

| June 22, 2020

Make screen time guilt-free with recommended educational channels, sites and TV shows for kids, as well as expert tips on limiting screen time and how to do it.

Screen time for kids can be educational – try these recommended apps and activities

Kids and screen time was a hot button topic for parents even before COVID-19 (coronavirus). How much is too much time on a screen? What should my child be doing on a screen? How do I control it? Do the United Nations need me to teach negotiation classes?

While kids are mostly returning to schools across Australia, there are definitely new protocols since we all learned the phrase “social distancing”. From now on, it’s highly likely kids will be staying home from school when they have the slightest tickle in their throat and that means technology will continue to be part of keeping them connected and learning. And even when they’re not meant to be at school, many parents will continue to feel guilt about the amount of time their children spend on screens. But there are ways to control screen time and not let it, and guilt, control you.

Educational channels and shows for kids make for guilt-free screen time.

Know What Kids Are Using the Screen For

It sounds simple, but youth and family counsellor, eSafety educator and author of The Modern Parent Martine Oglethorpe, who has five children of her own, says there can be vastly different uses for screens and it's important to look beyond how much screen time kids have on devices. Rather, find out what they are doing on them.

“In the regular world, before COVID-19, I didn’t look so much at how much time my kids were on screens,” Martine says. “Although the time does need to be reasonable, it’s what they are doing on them that’s important.”

Martine says parents should ask these questions:

  • What are they doing on the screen?
  • Are they creating and/or learning?
  • Are they consuming (e.g. YouTube)?

Understand What Happens After Screen Time

It’s important to monitor moods and behaviour not just when kids are on screens but also when they put them away. “I also look at what the impact of that screen time is,” Martine says. “Is it making them feel better or worse? What are they missing out on while on a screen? Is it replacing face-to-face contact, getting active, creating and playing?”

If they are on social media comparing themselves to other kids and subsequently feeling low or playing video games that are impacting their behaviour, that requires parents to step in and limit screen time.

Use Common Sense

Go through the settings of games that are played and make sure, for example, kids can’t be contacted by strangers. Also, Martine suggests: talk, talk, talk. Rather than blocking and limiting screen time, have conversations about what your kids are seeing online or on TV shows, what they might see and expectations.

“I have Family Zone,” Martine says. “But when it comes to my younger kids I can hear what they are on. I’ll walk past and check it out and have a chat about it and ask, ‘What are you watching?’ and make sure they’re not holed up in bedrooms.”

SEE ALSO: Let The Geek Guide You: Cool Games for Learning

Recommendations for limiting screen time for kids and how to control it.

Be Realistic

Kids are often on screens for school work and downtime – and sometimes that can feel like they’re never without a piece of shiny metal in their hands. Remember: screens are an important educational tool and serve a purpose for downtime but, as Martine says, “It’s not a free-for-all”.

“Ask yourself: what is going to work for you? What’s reasonable? And also know that you, as parents, are still in control of screen time even though it is needed daily for school.”

Opt for Quality Screen Content

Keep everyone in the family happy with content that is, yes, educational but also entertaining and engaging. Stick with the providers and channels like ABC Kids, National Geographic and Ted-Ed, who have a good reputation for producing kids’ shows and reputable education and resource sites. For inspiration try these:

Screen Time Ideas For Kids

Funbrain
Covering literacy and maths skills, Funbrain offers interactive games, videos and printables delivered in a fun, structured way for both school and at-home learning.
Perfect: Toddlers, Preschoolers and Early Primary

123 Homeschool 4 Me
Screen time for kids doesn't have to stay on screen. Click this way for free printables for kids. There are worksheets, games, ABCs, alphabet colouring pages, telling time puzzles, music note flashcards and much more.
Perfect: Toddlers, Preschoolers and Early Primary

All Kids Network
Find thousands of fun and educational games, arts and crafts and worksheets here for kids to do with parents, teachers, siblings and friends. Perfect: Early Primary Kids

Club Scikidz
Head straight to the Club Scikidz blog for daily STEM challenges and experiments that include simple instructions and resources. It’s screen time for kids that they will love and learn from.
Perfect: Early and Upper Primary Kids

Artsology
Find everything from investigations into how artists depict emotions in art to sand painting games and a Pop Art crossword at this educational art site.
Perfect: Upper Primary Kids

Innerbody Research
When kids get curious about what makes them tick, let them explore these detailed treatments of human anatomy systems, such as the endocrine and nervous systems.
Perfect: Upper Primary Kids

EveryDay Earth
These interactive earth science lessons are designed to keep kids engaged and entertained, and help them connect abstract learning to concrete concepts.
Perfect: Upper Primary Kids