Can Screen Time Actually Help My Child?

By Stephanie Bayona, MS. Ed., Lindsay Sigrist, MS Ed. & Sean McCormick, MS. Ed.

The increase in technology use over the past few decades is exponential. There is no denying that as time passes, technology will more and more be a part of our everyday lives at practically every age. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see a 5-year-old child skillfully using a smartphone or tablet. This increase in technology, especially with school-aged children, has led to countless studies on the effects of screen time. Many studies out there have shown that too much “screen time” can be potentially harmful to young children, from reduced sleep quality to getting insufficient physical activity.

But have you ever stopped to consider the benefits of screen time? Here are some ways that your child’s screen time can actually be making a positive impact on their development and learning:

1.) Screen time helps children stay connected during “Covid times”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, means of communication have been a hot topic of discussion. Thanks to technology, we have been able to stay connected virtually through platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Duo and even Facetime. Using their devices to stay in contact with friends and family can help children feel more connected and help them develop their social-emotional skills. Some ideas include scheduled Zoom play dates with close friends, Netflix parties to watch movies together, or simultaneously using game apps such as ‘Words With Friends’ to play competitive games with others. Besides video platforms, other apps that can help families and friends stay connected include Caribu, Houseparty, and Together. Using screen time to socialize and stay in touch with loved ones can be.

2.) Use of educational apps or websites in moderation can help build academic skills

There are countless high-quality digital resources available on your tablet’s app store or on the internet- most of them are FREE! Allowing your child to work on a website or app that would help them build foundational math or reading skills can be fun and beneficial at the same time. A good way to ensure it is being done in moderation is to teach your child to use a timer to limit their screen time on the sites or activate parental controls on the device they are using. Some highly recommended apps include Nearpod, Reading Eggs, Khan Academy, ABC Mouse, Newsela, Prodigy, and many, many more. For a list of parent resources, check out EFS’s Parent Resource Guide.

3.) Development of “digital literacy” can be beneficial for entering future job markets

There is no doubt that as technology continues to proliferate throughout the world, there will come a time when all jobs will require the use of some kind of technology, especially for communicating with colleagues and finding and evaluating information. Children who learn how to use technology effectively at an early age will have an advantage in the job market by the time they are ready to enter it. Finding and sharing information online, communicating virtually, and creating digital content are just a few of the ways that having this “digital literacy” will be valuable skills to hold in the future.

4.) Video games can have benefits, too!

Because we tend to think in black and white, it’s easy to see video games as having a negative effect on our children. However, it’s important to consider the skills children learn from using video games. Playing video games can increase players’ manual dexterity, persistence, social skills, problem solving skills, visual-spatial skills, and even reading. Further, research by Dr. Mark Griffifths suggests skills related to video game use include: enhanced computer/IT skills, stimulating learning, setting goals and goal rehearsal, and facilitating the development of various language skills. With all of these benefits, how do we counter overuse? Children can become frustrated by not having input and agency in their schedules, especially when it comes to a preferred task such as screen time. Work with your child to develop a concrete schedule that you both agree to for video game use and screen time. Having this agreement ahead of time, rather than having to negotiate in the moment, will promote a positive relationship, including teamwork, collaboration, and communication.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can support your child’s educational needs, contact us at info@efspecialists.com or check out our website efspecialists.com.

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