Giving Compass' Take:

• During the COVID-19 pandemic, screen time is becoming a necessary part of our lives as everything pivots to virtual spaces. It is crucial to balance social media, other screen time, exercise, schoolwork, and hobbies to promote positive mental health.  

• How can schools incorporate screen time considerations into their daily instruction? What are the consequences of more screen time for young people? 

Read about the impact of increased screen time on kids during COVID-19. 

Anecdotal evidence and personal experience leads me to believe that parents have collectively abandoned most screen time limits during stay-at-home orders, when everyone is just trying to get through the day in peace. No one should give themselves grief for it.

Now, as we move into extended remote learning, I'd suggest doing a very casual audit of the various activities your family usually uses screens for, adding in your new school requirements. Do you like to watch movies together? Do your kids play video games or watch Netflix? Will your child be in Zoom classes all day or will they be watching asynchronous videos? The answers will depend on the sum total of all of these details.

For a first-grader with hours of Zoom school, you might limit independent screen time beyond remote learning, reserving any additional screen time for a shared family activity. If your child is older and socializes frequently with friends through Twitch or other video games like Fortnite or Minecraft, that need will still need to be fulfilled on top of remote learning, especially as in-person visits with friends are still curtailed.

Broadly speaking, if the activity in question — especially when it comes to free play— can be done without a screen just as well or better, prioritize that. Lean into paper books instead of iPad books, drawing paper instead of a sketching app, or a podcast instead of a show. These are all possible ways to modify the activities that used to happen on a screen, and it's worth adults considering them as well. If you're able to work from home, you're probably conducting a lot of meetings over Zoom, and know firsthand how fatiguing that is. Since in-person activities have unavoidably shifted into on-screen activities, it's helpful to execute the reverse shift where you can.

The most serious concern with screen time is that you don't want a child to experience negative mental health effects of too much time inside the bubble of social media. This is a hard line to walk right now as many kids and teens are otherwise cut off from their friends. Balance among social media, other screen time, exercise, schoolwork, and hobbies is still the goal. But screen time can be a wonderfully rewarding and enriching activity when done conscientiously. It can even help kids cope with the changes in their lives right now.

Read the full article about screen time during a pandemic by Alex Hazlett & Rebecca Ruiz at Mashable.