How to reduce screen time while kids attend virtual school

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Most area school children who are doing virtual learning, have been back for about a month now. I did a very small survey, so small it was within the walls of my home. My kids are currently 100% virtual.

My middle schooler said he spends about five hours or so on the computer daily for virtual learning, then an additional 1-2 hours a day doing homework. His break is turning to the XBOX and playing Fortnite with friends, more screen time.

My freshman said she is also around five hours a day on Zoom calls, with 1-2 hours of homework to be done online. She then spends time talking to friends on facetime or Tik Tok to unwind.

My junior was about the same with daily time and an increase of 1-3 hours of homework to be done in front of a screen. He also enjoys time on the XBOX at night or watching the NBA playoffs.

All of this adds up to a lot of time in front of the screen. Whether it’s doing homework, playing games, watching TV, Facetiming friends, or on social media.

So what does all of this mean? Without a doubt, this is a challenging and unprecedented time for parents, teachers, and children. Every household is different.

Tips to reduce screen time:

  • Digital quarantine: Consider limiting your children’s cell phones and tablets until their schoolwork is done satisfactorily so that it can receive their undivided attention.
  • Digital recess: Make sure that your children take plenty of breaks in order to get physical activity and time away from screens.
  • Keep it old school: Overuse of screen time can have adverse impacts on young brains. Studies show that remote education can be challenging for all ages, but especially young kids, so do whatever you can. Stimulate self-expression by having discussions with your children about what they are doing.
  • This is not a vacation: Even though staying home from school might feel like a holiday, remind your kids that they’re not on vacation. Assignments, grades, requirements, and tests like state exams, SATs, and ACTs aren’t going away just because classes have moved online.
  • Don’t forget to have fun: Plan off-screen activities for the whole family. Between school and work obligations, it’s rare for parents and children to have this much time together, so turn it into an opportunity for bonding.

Whatever you can think of that works for your family to get time away from the screen is certain to be beneficial.

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