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Screen time during the pandemic: Quality vs. quantity

Posted at 1:17 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 12:15:59-04

NORFOLK,Va. - Families are likely using screens more than ever. From virtual classrooms, to learning applications, the pandemic is posing a new problem for parents: how much is too much?

“Give yourself some grace. Allow some extra screen time,” said Shannon Hood, manager of CHKD’s Child Life and Patient Experience Program.

Hood said parents should focus more on the quality of screen time instead of the quantity. For example, she said interactive games and apps that encourage exercise and movement are great. She also said face-to-face interactions between children and loved ones is ideal.

“I think there’s a lot of value in that,” she said. “Especially when we have kids who are birth to a year, screen time is not recommended. But when kids are able to see a caregiver face-to-face, or a grandparent reading a story, or somebody reading a story to them, there’s so much value to that because they can see your face. They can practice words.”

Hood warned against unchecked time scrolling on social media.

“If they’re just scrolling through pages, it’s actually really hard on your eyes and it makes your brain [unable] to connect as much,” she explained. “It makes it harder to take a nap or to fall asleep.”

Hood encouraged ditching screen time in bedrooms and at meal times. She also said there are signs children are getting too much screen time.

“Are your kids complaining that their eyes or so tired, or headaches? Are they kind of [going] back to their room a lot? Are they not verbally or socially interacting with their family? “ she said.

If the answers to those questions are yes, Hood said parents should give these suggestions.

“Let’s get outside and play. Let’s go outdoors and take a break from the screen or read an actual book that doesn’t have the same lighting as a screen would have,” she said.