Just about every single one of us is spending too much time in front of a screen these days. Many, if not most, of us are spending most of our days on one — including, unfortunately, our children.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course. When the pandemic began a year ago, we had no way of knowing it would last so long. Suddenly, school became remote, daycare ended. Many parents started working remotely, and those who remained in the workplace had less oversight at home. At the same time sports, playdates, and other non-screen activities literally disappeared. We naturally went into survival mode and turned on the screens. We let our kids spend hours more than they used to on entertainment media, figuring that it wouldn’t be for long. We turned a blind eye to the violent online games, figuring that at least our children were interacting with their friends.
But a year later we are still stuck in our homes — and our kids are increasingly stuck to their screens.
Life on screen: Changes in behavior and learning
This isn’t good for them. Besides the simple fact that screen time is sedentary time, too much time in front of a screen has effects on behavior and learning that can change our children. The rapid-fire stimulation of much of what children engage with on entertainment media makes slower-paced activities like playing with toys, painting a picture, or looking at a book less appealing. Not only that, but it can interfere with how children learn and practice executive function skills, like delayed gratification, troubleshooting, collaborating, and otherwise navigating life’s challenges. It also gives them fewer chances to use their imagination and be creative. It can affect their mood, making them anxious or depressed.
There is the additional problem that it’s hard to