How Students Can Use Screen Time At Home To Safely Connect With Friends
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Many parents are tossing their digital rules out the window while schools are closed. As Americans are asked to “shelter in place” and "social distance", many parents are becoming more lenient when it comes to screen time at home.
We asked 4 parents and experts how to find balance with screen time while at home. SmartSocial.com has many tools to help families stay safe while working, studying, and socializing online.
1. It’s OK to allow some extra screen time when schools are closed
Kelley Kitley, a psychotherapist and mother of four
Extra screen time at home has been a “lifeline” for her kids. Both she and her husband are suddenly working from home and all of their kids’ school work is happening at home, too.
“Our 11 year-old schedules a Zoom call daily with her two best friends. The 7 year-old uses my phone to FaceTime friends and play dolls or eat snacks together. Our boys have increased Xbox time, connecting with cousins from a different state.”
2. Parents should monitor all chat apps
Josh Ochs, Founder of SmartSocial.com
Video chat apps top the Spring 2020 download charts as people look for new ways to stay in touch with friends and family. Houseparty, Snapchat, Marco Polo, TikTok, and Facebook's Messenger Kids are among the most popular.
“Each app comes with different dangers that parents should be aware of,” explained SmartSocial.com Founder Josh Ochs. “I always encourage parents to be on the same apps their kids are using. Know about the privacy settings for each app and what type of content can be shared. It’s the best way to protect students from cyberbullying, predators, screen time addiction, and more.”
3. Apps can help keep students connected
David Bakke is a father and contributing writer for DollarSanity.com
His 14 year-old son is relying on apps, like Marco Polo, to stay connected with friends.
“I do my best to monitor his activity while I'm working from home, but there are probably a few things that slip through the cracks. I've educated him on the do's and don'ts of social media and app communication, so I feel that I can pretty much trust him,” said Bakke.
4. Online educational tools offer healthy screen time options
Many parents of younger students are also easing their screen time restrictions while schools are closed.
“We've downloaded Messenger Kids, Marco Polo, and Zoom. We've used them to stay in touch with their friends and teachers. We are also using them for digital lessons, such as piano,” she explained.
Dorothy says mixing online educational tools into the daily mix, like ABCMouse and GoNoodle, helps her find a good balance.
“While we do spend a lot of time playing in our yard, technology and these apps are ultimately what is making this crazy time bearable. I don't feel so guilty when I know that they are getting something educational out of the apps they are using. We all need to make some compromises until things settle down, and extra screen time has tremendously eased the boys’ feelings of isolation,” she said.
SmartSocial.com’s key online safety takeaways:
- Download our free Smart Social App
- Parents should use every app their students are using to know what kind of content they are seeing and sharing
- Never let students sleep with their phones
- Set up a family social media plan that includes daily screen time limits and encourages good digital behavior
- Let your kids know they can always come to you if they experience anything negative online
SmartSocial.com has all the tools parents need to help their students stay safe online:
- Nearly 100 detailed app guides for parents, sorted by three safety zones
- 100+ free online educational resources to help students maximize their online time
- 100+ offline activities to get students off their devices
- 30+ workshops to help families learn the best ways to stay safe online while building a positive digital footprint
- A free newsletter (delivered twice a week) to keep parents and educators up to date on the latest social media trends and apps
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