Is Screen Time OK for Your Kids During Quarantine?

Tarrah Gibbons
March 31, 2020 - 6:00 am

As more and more families find themselves at home abiding to stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus, parents are wondering: Is screen time okay for the kids?

Jordan Shapiro, author of "The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World," said "screen time" isn't a big deal.

In an interview with Today, Shapiro said parents should remove the phrase "screen time" from their vocabulary. Shapiro, who has two sons aged 14 and 12, said research has shown that there is nothing toxic about screen exposure.

"You don't turn into a zombie. Your brain doesn't rot," Shapiro said. "Therefore, the question of duration is not really relevant."

Shapiro said that during quarantine, it is essential for parents to worry about not how long, but how their children are engaging with screens.

"Are they just binge-watching YouTube videos, or are they involved in something creative?" he asked. "Are they playing alone, or are they involved in online, interactive multiplayer activities? Are they composing electronic music, or are they scrolling mindlessly through TikTok? It's much more important to consider how the screens are being used than it is to consider how much they're being used."

Relaxing family policies on screen time during coronavirus, when much normal day-to-day structure has been turned on its head, may feel not optional, but inevitable. But Shapiro reminds parents that even before social distancing, screens were a daily part of everyone's life. And during at-home time, they can be an invaluable tool for kids to stay in touch with friends.

"Kids are not only required to use digital technology for schoolwork but also it's the platform for social connection — it's how they connect with their cohort of peers," Shapiro explained. "Screen time was already normal (before coronavirus) and already needed to be a non-issue. Now, parents have no choice but to accept it."

Shapiro said if you monitor your children's screen time, that is essential. If they are also exercising, reading, and doing creative projects, you should not worry.

"There's no bad amount of screen time, but there is such a thing as being narrow-minded in your interests," Shapiro said.

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