Kids’ Screen Time During the Pandemic



It’s been 25 years since I saw the look on my son’s face when we handed him his very first Gameboy!  I don’t know which was wider, his smile or his eyes. It never entered my mind that all these years later, children playing video games would play a major role in parents’ sanity.  BUT, here we are in the middle of a pandemic!!

At 31, this same son is constantly questioning his parenting skills as his two little ones play games while he juggles working from home.  Needless to say, he was happy to hear that even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has altered its approach for the COVID-19 quarantine, advocating restrictive limits on screen time.   

So, we can all breathe a little easier with this knowledge.  And you can stop feeling guilty that your child is playing video games while you are working, assisting another child with Zoom school, or maybe just taking a much needed and well-deserved break.

I think it would be helpful if we start to look at playing video games with new thoughts in mind.  Pre-Covid, we would push our kids out the door to play with friends in the neighborhood. We would arrange playdates and take them to the park to socialize with others.  Unfortunately, we can’t do that now.  We need to think outside the box.

Many video games can be played in groups.  Obviously, they should not be playing with strangers.  But if your child is old enough, encourage them to form a game group with their friends.  This way they can still socialize, interact, and work on healthy competitive skills. Games such as Minecraft Dungeons and Animal Crossing are very popular for this type of interaction.

According to Elissa Strauss, CNN:  “There are a number of studies that conclude that video gaming can bring about more prosocial behaviors among children, especially for those who play collaborative games. One found that gaming can lead to kids having more friends and being more willing to talk to others, and another found that gaming can make kids more inclined to help others. Also, researchers have found that children who were socially engaged while playing video games were more likely to be civically engaged as adults.”

Anyone with a toddler knows these little ones have also discovered screens.  And since most of them aren’t able to attend preschool, screen time for a toddler on a balanced level is also okay. At this age children learn through play.  Games such as ABC Mouse offer many educational opportunities for this.  TV shows and games like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood teach toddlers about feelings and life skills.

We all need to escape what is in front of us for a bit…even kids.   And now we don’t have to feel guilty about keeping our sanity.

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