Managing screen-time when everybody's stuck at home

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, schools have closed in more than 70 countries. Australia is not yet one of them. But infectious disease experts warn it’s a case of when, not if. 

In the meantime, between activity cancellations, voluntary self-quarantine and social distancing measures, Australian families will be spending more time at home than ever before.

The challenges for parents are enormous right now - and managing screen-time for children is one more thing to worry about.

One thing experts agree on: when kids are stuck in the house, demands for screen-time will inevitably escalate. (You probably didn’t need an expert to tell you that!) How you respond to those demands is where it gets tricky.

Unconditional screen-time surrender?

Some experts are advising unconditional surrender - including Dr. Sean O’Leary, an executive member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases. 

“I think, for better or worse, what’s going to happen is the limits on device time are going out the window,” O’Leary told the New York Times in an article titled “Just Give Them the Screens (for Now).” 


But others stress the importance of keeping online safety top of mind. And that means maintaining, not suspending, screen-time boundaries - particularly when it comes to keeping devices out of bedrooms - and making sure kids get plenty of offline stimulation.

Beware the “Toxic trio”

The facts are well established: kids make poor digital choices when faced with the “toxic trio” of boredom, bedrooms and darkness. 

It’s likely that, with less face-to-face socialising, our kids will be clamouring for more online contact, whether via video chat, texting or live-streaming. And there’s nothing wrong with being more flexible about that, while other activities are curtailed.

The facts are well established: kids make poor digital choices when faced with the “toxic trio” of boredom, bedrooms and darkness. 

But when it comes to bedroom device-use, being online after 10 pm, and scrolling mindlessly because “I’m bored!” - enforcing strict limits is more essential now than ever. 

Use parental controls wisely

Strong, flexible parental controls like Family Zone allow you to make day-to-day or even hour-to-hour changes in the access you allow. That’s a critical feature for any family that needs to home-school during the current crisis.

But that flexibility also allows mums and dads to be realistic - and sympathetic - about their children’s needs for social connection, while being vigilant about their online safety.

Take the time to talk

The upside of more time at home with the kids is more time for meaningful conversations about digital safety. 

You might start with the misinformation epidemic about coronavirus itself - a phenomenon that’s been dubbed an “infodemic.”

From there, why not keep the conversation going about other safety concerns you, and they, might have - whether about online porn, or cyberbullying or dangerous TikTok challenges.

You have enough to worry about right now. Don't add screen-time worries to the list.

Let Family Zone's strong, flexible parental controls help you set the boundaries your kids will need.

Start your free trial today, and create a home where digital children thrive.



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Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, online safety, anxiety, coronavirus

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