What if my child has too much screen time?

5 answers

Between distance learning and spending less time with friends, many kids are having more screen time than ever. That can be a big worry for parents and caregivers, who wonder what the impact will be. Should they limit their child’s screen time during COVID, or is it better to let it go for now? 

Some kids have an especially hard time turning off their screens and moving on to something else. And that can add an extra layer of concern for parents.

If you’re worried about screen time, we get it. Some of the parents on the Understood team are concerned, too. Here’s what they’re thinking when it comes to kids and screen time.

Answer fromLaura Key

Before the pandemic, my 5-year-old daughter thought of screen time as a treat. I didn’t want to take that away from her when we were stuck at home and both feeling anxious. So, I let her watch. 

But little by little, screen time got out of control. I started to rely on it to get work done or to have time for myself to relax. Then she started expecting it all the time. 

Now that we’re back into more of a rhythm, I’m trying to cut back how much screen time she gets, but she is not having it! I feel like I’ve lost control over screen time.

Answer fromAndrew M.I. Lee, JD

Answer fromVeronica Villalpando

Sophia spends seven to eight hours on Zoom calls every day, and this is just class time. In addition, she asks for permission to Zoom call her fifth-grade friends or play an occasional game of Minecraft. On the weekends, she uses her iPad to complete homework, check emails, and practice her drawing. 

Part of me worries whether this amount of screen time will have a negative impact on her development, impulse control, and health overall. Another part of me believes that it’s justified considering it’s the only way she can connect with her friends and perhaps even to a feeling of normalcy. 

The guilt is real. But until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine, I’m not so sure there’s a better way of managing this. 

Answer fromDanielle Ward

Answer fromKarin Bilich

This year, my daughter is doing hybrid learning (at school every other day), and the teachers have significantly cut back on homework. That means a lot more free time at home. 

The result is hours upon hours on TikTok and YouTube, watching some of the most annoying videos I have ever seen — even during the 10-minute “mask breaks” during the school day for in-person learners. She’s spending more hours a day than I’d like staring at some sort of electronic device and watching videos that are in no way related to learning. 

I can’t wait for the day when kids can start acting like kids again — when they’re allowed to play outside with their friends, ride bikes together, laugh together and, heaven forbid, give hugs. Until then, I guess parents like me just have to let them have their screen time.

Families don’t all approach screen time the same way — especially now. But if you’re looking for ways to limit the time your child is spending on screens, try creating a contract. Here’s a printable cell phone contract you can use as a model.



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