Remember: You’re in a judgement-free blog post- so you can be honest!
On average, how many hours of screen time do your kids get a day?
If you glanced over at your child, how much of that time are your kids in a zombie-like state?
- Eyes glazed over.
- Barely blinking while staring into a screen for hours on end.
- They have an insatiable hunger for content and their screens are taking over their minds, seemingly eating their brains.
Rest assured, every parent has seen this kind of passive, mindless viewing that requires no thought, creativity, or interaction to progress. It’s the kind of screen time that childhood development experts and parents are so concerned about.
And they should be— because, if there’s one thing TV and movies have taught us adults, it’s that zombies = trouble.
As a culture, we’ve passed the digital tipping point of no return.
Our world is already dominated by screens. Imagine how ubiquitous screens will be by the time your kids are in high school!
At Whimisfull, we believe we have developed a better solution to the problem of passive screen time. After studying the screen time habits of 4-11 year olds, the University of Michigan published a research study stating that “how children use the devices, not how much time they spend on them, is the strongest predictor of emotional or social problems connected with screen addiction.”
Dr. Juana Willumsen of the World Health Organization warns: ”There is no denying that screens are part of the modern era. It is how we interact that matters.”
So what is a parent to do? Completely cutting out screen time is unrealistic and frankly, for kids growing up in the modern world, will only leave them behind the 8-ball for years to come. Luckily, there is a solution!
Active Screen Time For The Win!
Active screen time is the opposite of the isolated “zombie mode” experience most kids have become accustomed to.
Rather, it’s all about being interactive and allowing children to engage with their learning.
Interacting with your kids while you watch content together has proven to increase active screen time in many cases. So, if you’re wondering what that looks like, here are some examples:
Laughing at jokes with them.
Pausing frequently to discuss and ask questions.
Drawing connections to the content by asking how it relates to them or how they can relate to it.
With the right mindset and approach, we can create deeper meaning and and reveal the benefits of sharing active screen time with your kids—benefits that are rooted in the theory of contingent engagement – the back and forth between parents and kids that leads to a true educational experience that kids will not only remember, but will truly learn from.
The Benefits of Active Screen Time
- Improves cognitive processing skills like comprehension, recall, and the ability to explore and engage with hypothetical situations.
- Improves information retention. *Research shows that when kids watch an educational program with a parent or caregiver, they retain more information than when they watch alone.
- Enhances empathy and conversational skills like taking turns when listening and talking.
- Quality time together leads to a stronger bond and shared language.
- If you make shared, active screen time the norm from a young age, it will help you to guide and monitor what your kids watch as they grow.
- Learning that the pause button is there for a reason. We control the media we watch – it shouldn’t control us.
At Whimsifull, we whole-heartedly believe in promoting healthy screen time. Our goal is to get kids out of “zombie mode” and into active engagement through meaningful, personalized content.
We agree with the advice of Professor Jordan Shapiro, a leading researcher who studies the effects a digital diet has on childhood development.
Shapiro believes that digital is the way of the future and being well-versed in the digital world will be a necessary skillset to have as kids grow and develop. Shapiro also tells us it’s not a good idea to limit screen time, but rather, to promote healthy digital behaviors in our kids.
One of the best digital behaviors is to create a digital diet based on active screen time with your child(ren). So, what practical steps can you take to harness screens and unlock their full potential?
Tips To Practice Active Screen Time
- Pause often.
- Reflect at the end before moving on to the next video/story/game.
- Ask questions frequently to improve recall.
- Practice educational skills. For example, ask how many colors are on the screen or play at half speed to read along with the subtitles.
- Discuss a scene or a character’s choices.
- Discuss the moral of the story – what did they learn from the characters and how can they apply it to their lives?
- Talk about the interaction between the characters – what could they emulate?
- Promote empathy by asking them what they would do in that situation.
- Include siblings or friends in the experience. The more people, the more diverse opinions for your kid to learn from.
Remember, active screen time is all about interacting. Make it fun!
Better yet – allow your child to be the star of their own story with Whimsifull – Try it FREE for 30 days!
Thanks for reading. Be sure to share your experiences with transitioning your child to active screen time.