Rethinking your child’s relationship with screens during the pandemic

Kids are consuming more media now that they’re stuck at home. Guess what? That’s OK.

You’re trying to figure out your 18th video conference call of the day—and you’re not the only one who’s been on her screen for hours. Despite your best efforts to encourage reading and crafting while maintaining some semblance of screen time limits, your kids still just want to veg out on videos. Are your children’s brains going to turn to mush by the time this is all over?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend family routines across the globe, it’s also intensifying our relationship with media in unprecedented ways. But to all the parents wracked with worry about letting their kids watch TV while cooped up at home, experts say: Relax.

Even though some studies have shown links between heavy media use and delays in language, increased rates of obesity, and sleep problems, experts agree that now is not the time to fret over such research. “There’s no reason to add to the stress of this current moment with more guilt about using technology,” says Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan and the author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for media use. “Guilt doesn’t help us plan. Instead, think about: What does my family need right now?”