How many devices do you have? Do you have a phone, laptop, tablet, and wearable? How about an ebook reader? How many social media accounts do you have? What about your child?
If all those questions feel overwhelming, that’s because the amount of technology and social media accounts we own are. There are so many ways to be connected now, and the ways we can connect are constantly increasingly, and currently, this is out of necessity.
With most schools starting school remotely (and most workplaces continuing to be remote), your child’s screen time has most likely skyrocketed, even more than it already has since the pandemic, and even before the pandemic started. The glare of the bright screens, the pressure to socialize and pay attention to important tasks all the time, and the lack of separation between work/school and home is probably getting to your child, if it hasn’t already.
You may have likely heard of the negative effects of constantly being connected on electronic devices. There are the physical effects like trouble sleeping at night, but too much screen time can affect us mentally as well, like constantly making us compare ourselves to others and increased feelings of loneliness.
Most of these studies and results come from adolescents using their devices and social media accounts for personal use, however. While there isn’t as much information about how attending school and/or work digitally can affect us, having to spend all this time online out of necessity is also going to affect them mentally. They may feel stressed to be working all the time and then feel guilty if they have to take a break, or they may find themselves comparing how school online is affecting them to what seems to be the perfect student in their online class acting as if being online is no big deal. They may find yourself frustrated and on edge at how one of their colleagues or peers is acting on video, or they may feel self-conscious from having to see their face on screen all the time.
And if all that information feels overwhelming, that’s because it is.
So how do you manage all this technology and need to communicate online, especially when you have no choice but to constantly be online? First off, having your child step away from screens is absolutely vital. Their school may have designated break times throughout the day, and while it’s tempting to go on their phone, suggest that they try not to spend their time away from their computer screen and focus on a different screen. Those who work from home shouldn’t feel guilty if they need to take a few minutes away from their job and computer either.
At least once an hour, encourage trying to get up and walk around whatever space is available near you. We also recommend that these mini-walks throughout the school and/or work day include doing something to better themselves, such as getting a glass of water in the kitchen or splashing cool water on their face. They also might want to use the mini-break to also clean up a small space around them to give them a better peace of mind.
Realistically, we know it’s impossible to avoid your phone and/or watching TV when you’re done with work and school too (especially if you have to do homework online too). However, your child might want to try designating certain times for their screen and certain times off, using the latter to possibly explore other hobbies to try!
As we hit yet another transition as a result of COVID, we hope that your child is able to adjust and find a way to balance not just their professional and personal screen time, but the time for themselves offline too.
Has your child’s screen time increased recently? For those back in school and doing it virtually, how have they tried to adjust? How have you encouraged a balance between being online and off?