It was so lovely to see all the children come through the school gates on the first day and settle in so well into their new learning spaces.
It was a long break, and I know the last few weeks in our house seemed to really start to drag. Screen time definitely increased in the last few weeks in our house. As we begin another school year, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the role that screens and the digital world play in our lives.
As we return to school, work and regular activities again, there can be apprehension from many on how they can ensure their young people are able to wean back some of that screentime and to ensure a sense of balance is restored or maintained.
So in order to play it fair online, to stay safe, to maintain mental health and wellbeing, and to return to some more positive and balanced digital habits, here are a few things we can continue to do, as we kick start the year with positive online behaviours.
Take regular breaks
Encourage a time limit on devices, and potentially only on certain days. Maybe it could be a plan of having 30 minutes of screen time after 30 minutes of outside play or homework.
Be mindful of what children are doing on the screens
As we start back to a new school year, maybe it’s time to set up specific spaces again of where our young people can use their devices. They need to be out in an open space with good visibility and then devices are charged in those spaces also.
Have a look at how you can monitor the apps and games your child is using. Play it with them for a time. It’s a great way to see what they are actually using, plus it’s a great way to build relationships and have incidental chats about their day in a comfortable, informal manner.
It also gives you an opportunity to see the ads that play when they are waiting for their next turn! They can often be a bigger issue than the app itself.
Talk about what they are missing out on
Often devices are an easy way to create entertainment. I know that is definitely true in our house. But when it’s always the first point of call, it’s easy to forget about the other fun things that are around the home. Bikes, board games, lego, the garden, the basketball hoop out the front. Also a lot of time, these other activities encourage social interaction that brings a richness to their afternoons and weekends.
Screens are not going anywhere fast and will continue to be an integral part of their life and learning. They allow for interaction with others without having to leave the home. This can be a good thing, especially in the current climate, but let’s not let us lose our real connections either.
Adrian Ford, Assistant Head of Primary