Stop Feeling Guilty About Your Child’s Screen Time

Martha Livingston

May 9, 2018

Without warning, many of us have found ourselves trying to do normal things in an abnormal way.  

Quarantine due to the global pandemic has moved work, school, social lives, and even grocery shopping online and into our homes.
Parents may have mixed feelings about allowing too much screen time to become a habit of home life, with some perhaps feeling guilty about all the extra screen time.

Woman Teaching Son

Here are a few suggestions to help families utilize screen time in positive ways to help children handle quarantine:
1. Technology can help foster connections. While children are staying home all day, they are missing out on opportunities to bond with classmates, friends or talk with grandparents and other family members who live outside your home. Kids feel such a profound sense of loss about missing out on these important face-to-face interactions.

This amount of screen time previously may have stressed me out, but now we can smile when we hear our teenagers interacting with their friends over video games. While this is a different way of connecting than many are used to, it does not negatively affect their social skills and may help children cope and connect when they feel isolated.

2. Technology can promote education. 
Transitioning to online learning has been difficult for teachers, parents, and students, but technology has allowed for learning to continue even in unconventional ways and in uncertain times. Many websites have educational games, shows, or project ideas that encourage children to explore new interests and continue learning outside the classroom.

3. Technology can entertain. 
Social distancing is stressful, and we all need a good distraction sometimes—especially our kids. Movies, TV shows, and games can be a great way to set aside the worries of the day and just be entertained. Further, parents have many responsibilities and allowing children some screen time for entertainment can give parents a much-needed opportunity to complete a bit of work, contact a friend or family member, or take a break. 

4. Technology can help children cope with stress.
The most successful way for children to handle stress is by adapting to stress rather than trying to change it, and a global pandemic is certainly not a stressor that any child can change.

5. Children can use technology to help them adapt to a new normal. 
By using technology to connect, learn, and entertain, many elements of life that children may be missing can be reintroduced in new ways. As children learn to use technology to make a hard situation more comfortable, they may be better able to handle the stress we are all feeling. 

6. Be active when using social media where possible. 
Research also has found that screen time is not inherently bad – it all depends on the way we interact with screens. 
For example, active screen time tends to be related to positive outcomes. When children are mentally engaged (ex. watching a documentary) or physically engaged (ex. following a yoga video on Youtube or using a touch screen), learning tends to be higher. 
This does not mean that all screen time needs to be active, but if a parent is worried about how much screen time is used each day, encouraging active screen time may be a way to reduce some of this worry.  

Adjusting to these new circumstances is difficult for everyone. There seems to be far more questions than answers and everyone is struggling in some way. In navigating how best to parent during a pandemic, remember that screen time can be an asset and not another stressor. 

Stay healthy and Safe!

About the author:

Martha Livingston, Ph.D, LPC-S has been working in mental health for over 25 years and is the CEO at San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center.

Please visit our Staff Tab to find a therapist that’s right for you. 

Make an appointment today at San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center, our counselors are waiting to hear from you. 210-614-4990      


Written by:

Martha Livingston


May 9, 2018


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