How to Hack the New Normal in Parenting and Screen Time Management

Every parent wants to know how to hack the new normal in parenting and screen time management. Whether you were a parent who had a plan or not when it came your child’s use of screens and going online; the pandemic and ensuing lockdown changed so many of the pre-pandemic screen time rules in most homes.

My interest in raising successful digital citizens has been long-running because I understand that in the digital age we cannot run away from or hide our heads in the sand that the use of technology has been ingrained in our lives and more so in the lives of our children who are essentially digital natives. I was glad to stumble on NPR’s Life Kit podcast, titled “When it comes to Screens, Kids need a guide – not a disciplinarian“. 

parenting and screen time management

New Normal Requires a Different Set of Rules 

Especially during the pandemic, it has become very clear that it is futile to resist technology. In fact, when it comes to parenting and screen time management; it is more important to see your families digital well-being as a total and holistic plan. To do this parents need a new set of rules and need to rethink their role when it comes to raising a responsible digital citizen. 

So the big question is what should parents be doing at this time? what rules should be in place? what conversations should you be having with your child? A lot of parents and families are struggling to deal with the new level of reliance and increased use of screens and technology during the pandemic. 

A lot of parents and families are struggling to deal with the new level of reliance and increased use of screens and technology during the pandemic. Click To Tweet

These two researchers, Sonia Livingstone, Children‘s digital experiences & rights expert and Alicia Blum-Ross, Google’s first-ever public policy lead for kids and families were able to carry out some very in-depth research which spans a period of several years. Their findings can help parents think about raising children in the digital world in the most effective way. 

According to the research conducted by Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross for their book titled “Parenting For A Digital Future,” they sort the kinds of parents into three buckets. These three buckets include those that embrace technology, those that resist technology and those that try to find a balance. 

The main thing is that instead of just thinking about setting limits, you should choose what’s right for your child and for your family. This includes actually listening to what your children want. 

Parents who Embrace Technology 

The parents who embrace technology are on the right path when it comes to parenting and screen time management. They are more equipped to face the reality of our new normal. They have resolved the dilemma of whether or not to let your children have access to screen time or not. This is because these set of parents have embraced technology by accepting that it is the future and it is now.

So they are more equipped to find a way and more enthusiastic in making it all work without feeling the tension. They are more likely to figure out what is exciting about technology and encourage their children to engage with it in healthy ways.

For parents who embrace technology generally find out how to live out their values as a family through technology. So for example, if you are a family that likes cooking, you can find recipes online that you try offline. 

Parents who Resist Technology 

The parents who resist technology are the ones who come from a place of fear and seeing all the problems with the internet without giving room for the opportunities. The parents who resist are more likely to put authoritative rules in place such as no screen time at all! Or they are overly critical and judgemental about their child’s use of the internet. In reality, resistance is futile. Sometimes the parents who are resisting are nervous about moving forward into a digital future.

Parents who Balance Screen Time and Technology Usage 

For parents who seek to strike a balance when it comes to the new normal of managing their screen time; they are more focused on ensuring that their children spend the right amount of time online as well as offline. 

For example, using Screen Time on your Apple devices, you can access real-time reports about how much time you and your children spend on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Additionally, you can set limits for what you want to manage. The balance can be instrumental in creating your family’s digital well-being plan.

Screen Time lets you know how much time you and your kids spend on apps, websites, and more. This way, you can make more informed decisions about how you use your devices, and set limits if you’d like to. 

You may be more lenient about screen time during quarantine, but at some point, you’ll have to set some boundaries. Your children need to do other things on a daily basis such as getting fresh air and doing chores. If they are always glued to their screen, it’s time to set some limits. Most parents have relaxed their rules in response to the difficulties of stay-at-home and quarantine life. However, all parents need to know that they need to have the right conversations and provide the guidance your children need. But sometimes enough is enough. 

parenting and technology

The Increase in Video Games Hours  

As part of the new normal, the number of young people playing video games has increased dramatically as well as the amount of time spent playing video games. A lot of these video games are based on violent themes. With the pandemic and lockdown, many parents relaxed their rules on screen time. In reality, video games allowed children to connect with others online. 

According to the Screenager podcast, Dr Ruston shares that the level of violence impacts youth at a deeper level. Douglas Gentile, PhD, is a child psychologist who has been doing groundbreaking research in this field for over 25 years. He shared that de-sensitization from exposure to violence can be negative overall. He led a study which followed 3,000 children over a 3 year period. What they found was that the more violent video games children play; the more they acquire a hostile attribution bias. 

What they found was that the more violent video games children play; the more they acquire a hostile attribution bias. Click To Tweet

Hostile attribution bias is when you are more likely to attribute hostility to other people’s actions. As a result, this can translate to children who would be less willing to give the other person the benefit of the doubt when they bump them on the playground for example. They are more likely to respond in a hostile and over time they get more used to respond aggressively overall.

You can listen to the whole Screenager podcast here and learn about how video games might be changing your child into a more aggressive person.

Rethinking the Rules on Screen Time

Parents have to be comfortable taking diverse approaches, so there’s no one right answer. When you think of a democratic family setting. It is important to recognize the values that parents are trying to encourage. This should be what leads the decisions that parents make about everything and their children‘s use of screen time.

For example, when it comes to the use of smartphones, there is no one size fits all. In some cases, children need to have a phone. This could be because it is a key way of staying safe and staying in touch. For example, children who need to use public transport to get to and from school; can stay in touch with their caregivers. 

If on the other hand, it is all about playing games or for entertaining themselves; then it might not be the most pressing need to get them a smartphone. While there is no one perfect answer, parents need to be intentional about their choices. However, giving your child a smartphone with unlimited access to the internet; with no limits in place is not recommended. 

What can Parents do to Navigate the New Normal? 

Overall, it is important for parents to feel that they can still bring their values into the world of technology and parenting. Parents need to understand their children and spend time understanding them, asking them what they like doing online and why. 

Overall, it is important for parents to feel that they can still bring their values into the world of technology and parenting. Click To Tweet

It could be helpful as well for parents to have conversations in general about online safety. As well as responsible digital citizenship, while highlighting the need for a whole family digital well-being plan. Today it is not about all or nothing; but rather about how to navigate the new normal of increased screen time in a healthy and holistic way. 

Once children are empowered and know how to make the right decisions online, then the struggle with screentime becomes a conversation and not a struggle. In summary, effective parenting through the new normal while ensuring effective screen time management is possible! 

Read Also: How to Guide your Child’s Screen Time 

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