American Academy of Pediatrics 'recognizes' kids will use more screens

Here is the group's top tips to manage kids' times.

March 24, 2020, 1:46 PM

With millions of children prevented from attending school because of the novel coronavirus, parents are struggling to keep them busy at home. Even after schoolwork, there are hours in the day left to fill.

The American Academy of Pediatrics told "Good Morning America" in an email, "AAP recognizes many children will be using more screen media now, whether for entertainment, education, or social connection."

One of the organization's top tips for managing the screens is to make a plan.

"Talk with your kids about what your daily structure will be, how you will handle stress, and when you will take breaks from tele-work or schoolwork to relax and connect with each other," the AAP wrote on its website.

"While limits are still important, under these stressful circumstances, kids’ screen media use will likely increase," the AAP said.

Because of the "unprecedented challenge" families are facing, the organization said, the AAP has published a list of ways to deal with increased screen time use.

1. Use social media for good! Check in with neighbors, friends and loved ones. If schools are closed, find out if there are ways to help students who need meals or internet access for at-home learning.

2. Use media for social connection: Social distancing can be isolating. If kids are missing their school friends or other family, try video chats or social media to stay in touch.

3. Be selective about what your children watch. Use trusted sources to find positive content, such as Common Sense Media, which has been compiling lots of ideas for families hunkering down right now.

4. Use media together. This is a great opportunity to monitor what your older children are seeing online and follow what your children are learning. Even watching a family movie together can help everyone relax while you appreciate the storytelling and meaning that movies can bring.

5. Parents working from home may need to adjust expectations during this time. But it’s also a chance to show kids a part of their world. Encouraging imaginative “work” play may be a way to apply “take your child to work day” without ever leaving home!

6. Podcasts and audiobooks are great ways to keep children’s minds engaged while parents get things done.

7. Find offline activities that help family relax and communicate. Take walks outside, play board games, read together, have family dance parties. Know which activities spark your children’s interest (kicking the ball around? baking?) and make time for them.

8. Create the space for family members to talk about their worries.

9. Parents -- notice your own technology use. When you’re getting too sucked into news or social media feeds and it’s stressing you out, children can notice. Take a break to protect your own mental health, too.

"Limits are still important. As the timeline of social distancing is uncertain, try to stick to routines," the AAP wrote. "Make sure technology use does not take the place of sleep, physical activity, reading, reflective downtime, or family connection."

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