How much screen time is too much? What is the best educational app?



Welcome to this episode of our limited edition Little humans advice section! Lead Writer Rebecca Ruiz and Director of Special Projects Alex Hazlett will answer questions about screen time and digital family life during the pandemic. Ask a question to [email protected]

What is the recommended amount of screen time by age, taking into account distance learning? And how much “free play” screen time should a child have in addition to distance learning? – Michelle Nix, mother of 2 children planned for a blended learning

This is a great question and one that you are in very good company with because millions of parents are truly there with you. The answer here depends on the age and role screen time played in your child’s life before distance learning, as well as the screen time involved in their distance learning.

Anecdotal evidence and personal experience lead me to believe that parents have collectively given up on most screen time limits when ordering stay-at-home when everyone is just trying to get through the day in peace. No one should worry about it.

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

For a first grader with Zoom school hours, you can limit independent screen time beyond distance learning, by reserving any additional screen time for a shared family activity. If your child is older and frequently socializes with friends through Twitch or other video games like Fortnite Where Minecraft, this need will always have to be met in addition to distance learning, especially since in-person visits with friends are always reduced.

Generally 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 it. Lean into paper books instead of iPad books, drawing paper instead of a sketching app or podcast instead of a show. These are all possible ways to tweak the activities that used to happen on a screen, and they’re worth adults considering them as well. If you can work from home, you probably have a lot of Zoom meetings and know firsthand how tiring it is. Since in-person activities have inevitably turned into on-screen activities, it helps to reverse the switch where you can.

The most serious concern about screen time is that you don’t want a child to experience negative mental health effects for too long in the social media bubble. It’s a tough line to walk right now as many children and teens are otherwise cut off from their friends. Balancing social media, other screen time, exercise, schoolwork, and hobbies is always the goal. But screen time can be a wonderfully rewarding and rewarding activity when done conscientiously. It can even help children cope with the changes in their lives right now.

I would also apply the idea of ​​a screen time audit to extracurricular activities and maybe even discuss it with your child’s teacher. If your ballet dancer doesn’t enjoy Zoom classes, it might be worth taking a break for now. If there is a part of the distance school day that is excessively stressful for your child and you have the time and the means to perform it in another way, discuss it with the teacher and see. what are your options. Districts will have different policies on what constitutes “presence” during distance learning, and on certain days meeting the minimum on this may be what needs to happen. At a time when parents are reporting declining mental health because of the pandemic, it pays to be creative and do what you can to make things sustainable. –Alex

How do I choose a good educational app from the hundreds available. Advices ? -Sugey Hungary

Choosing the right educational app can be a daunting task. It’s a bit like looking at a jeans rack and trying to figure out which pair will suit you best. One way to start is to narrow down your choices based on the size, style, and wash you prefer. Likewise, the first step I would recommend is deciding what is age appropriate and most relevant for your child. Are you hoping that an app will help you master basic phonetics, spelling and math? Are you looking for a platform that will engage your child in creative and critical thinking skills? Try to settle on a few basic qualities that you are looking for based on their age and purpose.

Next, determine if you’re willing to pay for an app or if you want a free product. In many cases, I highly recommend paid or subscription apps, as they have most likely been developed by professionals with experience in child development and / or education (of course, confirm to be sure). They also don’t rely on advertising and in-app purchases, which can distract younger users. If you can afford to pay, set a budget first, then explore what’s available.

The application DIY, which offers lessons in skills such as animation, photography, and invention, costs between $ 15 and $ 25 per month, but is arguably worth the cost if your child enjoys expressing their creativity by learning new things and by sharing their progress with others. I’m also a fan of the fancy apps created by TinyBop, which are geared towards independent learning and experimentation. They typically cost from $ 2.99 to $ 3.99, but can also be purchased in reduced price packages from the App Store. That said, there are some great free learning apps out there, including Khan Academy and The children of the Khan Academy as well as the applications produced by PBS CHILDREN, As Play and learn science, Natural Cat, and The cat in the hat builds this!

If you’re not sure what your child might be most interested in, ask them first (if you haven’t already). Talking to a younger child before choosing an app might seem like an invitation to the process of getting out of hand, but it’s a great way to learn more about their curiosities and how they hope to spend their time. If your child is older, ask what apps their friends use and discuss the pros and cons of screen time. If your child is already in school and already participating in distance learning, which often comes with their own set of digital platforms and apps, ask if they would like to add even more time to learning. screen on his schedule. Your child’s personality should match or feel complementary to the programming of the app. You can download the top rated educational app that all of your friends love, but it doesn’t matter if your kid is bored with the characters, design, or content.

For reviews and suggestions, definitely check out Common Sense Media, which has a library recommendations. Mashable too rounded 12 apps, platforms and websites that we think are the most attractive and secure on the Internet. It’s the rare app that can meet all of your educational needs in one place, so consider downloading a few options, maybe a combination of paid and free, or look for no-screen educational opportunities to encourage other areas. of their intellectual growth and development. – Rebecca

The questions have been edited slightly for clarity.

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