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How to Manage your Screen Time While Staying Home

In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), schools and offices across the country have shut their doors. Canadians staying home and adjusting to physical distancing are finding themselves spending more time online, both to read the news and to connect with friends and family.

While it’s important to stay informed and socially connect with others, studies show that excessive screen time can lead to eye strain and neck and back pain, as well as social media fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, increased social media and screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic can compound fear and panic. Luckily, there are some things we can do to alleviate these issues.

  • Ensure you’re watching and reading credible media coverage: Carefully choose the media you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis. Psychologist Simon Sherry recommends limiting your exposure to a few credible sources of information and only accessing those sources once per day. 

  • Set time limits, but be flexible and gentle with yourself: It can be hard to set strict rules while adjusting to new routines. Caroline Knorr, senior parenting editor at Common Sense Media, advises that while parents are trying to figure out how to run the household under new conditions, it’s fine to allow more screen time than usual, as long as it’s age appropriate. 

  • Mindfully use your screen time to connect with friends and family: Instead of endlessly refreshing bad news on Twitter, be mindful and conscious of how you spend your daily screen time. Call or video conference with your family, or play an online game with your friends. See our tips on how to be together, separately.  

  • Allow children to play and interact with friends: Children and teens should not be gathering in public places during physical distancing, but it’s still important for children to maintain relationships with peers. Under appropriate  supervision, kids can FaceTime their friends, play online games, or send each other silly videos. 

  • Watch TV and movies together with children: Experts suggest that parents and caregivers watch media with children when possible, and to talk through it. Co-viewing can support early comprehension and literacy skills and boost empathy.  

 

Additional Resources:

Parenting in a Digital Age: Understanding Kids and Technology from PREVNet
Screen Time vs. Lean Time from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Media Plan from HealthyChildren.org
Talking with Children about Coronavirus Disease 2019 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  

 

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