As parents grapple to find some balance for their kids, in this digital age of devices and screens, we are realising that not all screen time is equal.
We love the idea of separating FUN and FUNCTIONAL screen time, and dealing with these as two quite different categories.
The fun group is quite easy to spot, and is the area that parents are increasingly being urged to put some limits on, in the interest of their children’s physical, social and emotional well-being. Think of this group as akin to sweets in your kid’s diet: little nutritional value but highly desirable and hard to stop! It provides entertainment, but needs to be taken in limited doses. Recommended screen time limits need to be applied to this category.
The functional group becomes more and more necessary as your kids get older, and as screens are required for learning and homework. Providing education, it is an unavoidable part of modern life, and takes preference over purely fun screen time when calculating total screen time. It can often be fun too, a combination that will be a far easier “sell” to our kids.
Remembering that the earlier we can instil good digital habits, the easier they are for our kids to maintain them for life, here is a handy comparison with some examples, to help you guide your under-13 kids in the screen time choices they make:
|SCREEN TYPE||JUST FUN||FUN & FUNCTIONAL|
|TV, movies & YouTube||Cartoons, game streaming & esports, reality & dating shows, soaps||Music, singing, dancing, magic, DIY, arts & crafts, baking, nature, travel, sports, science, animals & pets, family adventures, survival shows|
|Games & Apps||Roblox, Fortnite, Overwatch, Apex Legends, Discord, Twitch||Minecraft, Heads up, HOMER Reading, KHAN Academy, Monument Valley, Wizard School, Bejewelled, Duolingo, NASA, Code.org, BrainPOP|
|Social media||FaceBook, Instagram, Insta Reels, TikTok, Snapchat||GoBubble|
Looking for more ideas? Our fave go-to is Common Sense Media for age-appropriate reviews of all things screen related!
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