Neptune Navigate Blog

Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.

The Upside To Screen Time

March 15, 2021

In my last blog, I talked about how screen time can interrupt our kid’s sleeping patterns, as well as our own. Nevertheless, there are also opportunities for us to teach them how to use technology in a way that can be fun, educational, creative and responsible!

As we’ve said before, our kids are growing up as “digital natives” so to completely ban them from technology is rather unrealistic, but we can show them some ways to enjoy the online world safely and use it to their advantage. With the past virtual academic year, our kids have learned more digital skills than ever, and they’ve become quite savvy when it comes to technology.

According to Temple University professor, Jordan Shapiro, “We all live our lives digitally, so we want these normal academic skills to be contextualized through a digital framework.”  So, our kids are learning, but in a completely different way. We aren’t going back to the “good ole days”, so we, as parents, need to look for ways to help our kids use technology constructively.

First and foremost, make sure you use parental controls so that your kids don’t have access to inappropriate content. If there is a breach in the parental controls, use this as an opportunity to talk with your kids about it. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open about their online activity. If you react with shame and guilt, your child is likely to conceal things from you in the future.

Look for ways that your child can connect with others in a safe way and use technology in creative ways. For example, a digital pen pal (friend, family member, etc.) where they can keep in touch on a more regular basis. Creating videos for  long distance grandparents to give them a window into their grandkids’ lives.   Let your child look up a recipe online and then help them make it. Have your child choose their favorite video game and play it with them. One family helped their kids set up a Zoom scavenger hunt with their friends. “They give each other clues, run around the house to find the object, and run back to the computer.”  You can give your child an idea for a story, then let them create their own using Google Docs using fun with fonts and color while improving their typing skills. 

With the amount of time our kids are spending on technology, it’s easy to feel out of control. However, with openness and intentionality we can help create an environment where our kids are seeing the incredible possibilities they have right at their fingertips!