Quarantine can mean extra screen time for kids and extra guilt for parents
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In many households across the Twin Cities, the ‘stay at home’ order has meant a lot of extra screen time for kids. Some of it for school, some of it for fun.
"The time spent on screens for schoolwork can exceed seven hours a day," sixth-grade student Cameron Mitchell said.
"You want their brains to develop properly," Erin Mitchell, Cameron’s mom, said. There’s so many messages out there and that’s the main reason for the guilt. It’s hard to let go of that, even in these unprecedented times."
For years parents have gotten warnings about the potential hazards of screen time. For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids between the ages of two and five should only have an hour a day. Recommendations for older kids are more discretionary. But some of those pre-quarantine guidelines are difficult to keep right now.
"It’s hard, especially since it’s their main mode of connecting with friends. A lot of those video games, you can play with a friend or talk with a friend," Mitchell said.
"We all see that screen time is going up," said Dr. Madeleine Gagnon, with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
She says during times like these, it’s more about balance, offering kids alternatives to screens, and managing the content of what’s on them.
"I would encourage people, while being mindful of the guidelines and protocols, to also be mindful of what works for a family during these difficult times in a healthy and realistic sense," she said.
Gagnon also says to try and set screen limits that work for your family, and make sure everyone in your house knows what they are.