What to do with your kid: Covid-19 Day 5 – Not All Screen Time is Created Equal

Greetings all!  (My son said I needed more gravitas in my posts.)

It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.

Today I want to have a little talk about screen time. There is a general consensus that we need to limit screen time for children, but there is a growing body of work that shows that not all screen time is created equal. A good general rule is that technology that lets you create is better than those that just have you consume.

Creation

There are a lot of aps and websites that are available to create with. I am going to list a few, but there really are hundreds out there.

Google Suite – Yup. Google. You can do a lot with their free cloud office apps. Your kids can write stories with Google Docs. They can use Google Slides to create photo collages of their activities. Google Sheets can be used to make mosaics or patterns for cross stitch and knitting. They can use Google Sites to create a daily blog to share a daily diary. If you have access to Microsoft Office, then much of it can be done there, but the bonus of Google Suite is that it is all free and can be accessed anywhere.

iMovie – it’s on your iPad – Have your kids make movies about their day to send to their grandparents. Or make an epic saga using their action figures and stop motion animation.

Minecraft. Yes, Minecraft – The core of Minecraft is the gathering of resources which are then used in the building of structures and the crafting of tools. And while the physics may be dicey, the structures users are capable of making are amazing. Challenge your kids to recreate their houses or neighbourhoods. Have them design their dream room. It will cost you money, but so many kids already have this game, it is worth looking into.

Google Music Maker – Google Labs has an experimental music program that lets you create music using colours and shapes. Garageband on your iPad will allow you to make music as well.

Google Jamboard – this is one of my current favourite apps. Part of Google apps, it works on both the Chrome browser on a laptop/Chromebook and as an app on mobile devices. Designed as a digital whiteboard and brainstorming tool, the mobile app has a great assistive drawing tool that lets you replace a very bad drawing of a cat with a line drawing of a cat. It currently costs money for the general public to use, but if your kid attends a school that is part of Google for Edu, they can access through their school account. Encourage them to make picture books and comic strips.

These are but a few options out there. Give your kids a chance to create with technology and you may be surprised at what they are able to do.

Consuming

Before I make some suggestions, not all consuming is evil, especially in times like these. There are media properties that can be a great comfort to all of us at this time. Remember, many children are upset by the disruption in their routine, the absence of their friends and the restrictions to their movements. Giving them their favourite TV show or movie for a couple hours a day is not a bad thing. It could give you a chance to get some work done or have some much needed “me time”. Remember, you have to maintain your mental health as well. Or sit with them and watch it again. 

I also remember my childhood. I am a member of Generation X. I grew up as a latch key kid and the daughter of a single mother. I had a *lot* of unsupervised TV time. Some of it was not what we would call educational. (A-Team, I am looking at you.) And I think I have turned out alright. 

So let them watch Frozen or Paw Patrol for the 1000th time. It will be okay.

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