Screen time for children during the pandemic is up more than double and many parents are worried.
But, I am here to tell you that this is fine. This is an unprecedented time and taking away kid’s screens right now would be taking away their connection to the outside world.
On a pre-pandemic day, my 15 year old daughter would show up before school starts for show choir, and she wouldn’t be home until well after dark from whatever play rehearsal she had. She would have texted me a couple of times to let me know who she was riding with or let me know that she was getting dinner with friends, but other than that, her screen time would have been virtually nonexistent.
Now? Now she gets up in the morning, signs in to school for hours on end on one laptop, and signs in to her voice chat with her friends on another. They work through their schoolwork together, just like the would have at school, but they do it with cameras and headsets instead of in person.
After school, instead of play practice with all her friends, she spends it playing video games with them. They sign into the games, sign back into chat and flip their cameras back on so they can feel like they are actually in the same room with each other.
Because, here’s what we as parents keep forgetting, we keep forgetting that while we are with our significant other and we have a great friend to spend all this time with during the loneliness of this pandemic, they don’t have theirs yet.
They are supposed to be out dating, hanging, and figuring out who their people are. Instead they have us. And maybe a sibling or two. But, what they don’t have is the people they choose.
And they also have their screen time. They have these screens in front of them that give them an opportunity to laugh, to joke and to hang with their friends. To flirt with each other and to talk. They can talk about what they are going through. They have each other.
Screens give them their friends back. Screens bring them right into their rooms. Screens give them a chance to be kids when the world is requiring them to be homebound.
Right now, screens are their saving grace. And when a kid says something like, “Don’t take away my phone, it’s my whole life!” right now, we should listen to them. We should understand that other than the time with their family, their phones, their computers, and their Ipads are their only connection to the outside world. To their friends and peers.
Their only connection to normalcy.
So, lay off the screen time limits. Lay off the rules. If your kid tells you that their phone is their life, that’s because it’s their connection to the outside world.
Be cool. Let them have their screens so they can have their friends.
So they can have their lives.