This year, your child has likely experienced more time in front of the screen than he or she has in all of the years combined. As we navigate this new normal and embark on a new school year, many parents are questioning how to manage screen time when our kid’s entire lives are now online. The best thing you can do for your child is to implement breaks throughout the day.
Breaks are important, not just for the eyes, but for our brains. When we worked and attended school out of the house, our brains had transition time between one location and the next. The commute between locations signaled to our brains that we were moving from one task to another. We were able to code switch without much thought.
Nowadays, as our commute has been reduced to five to ten steps from one room to the next, our brains don’t have a chance to code switch. It is important that we encourage these moments and teach our children how to give our brains space and time to relax and reset.
Tips for Implementing Regular Breaks
Step away from the screen regularly. In between each class, encourage your child to walk away from his or her computer. If they have less than a minute to change classes, have them stand up, shake our their limbs, roll their head a few times, and gently close their eyes. Every twenty minutes, have your child look at an object across the room (about 20 feet away) for 20 seconds. This will support eye health.
Stretch often. For at least five minutes every hour, encourage your child to move around. Between classes, have them refill their water bottles or run up and down the stairs in your house for five minutes. Have them stretch their arms up to the sky, clasp their hands and lean to the left and right before bending down and touching their toes.
Establish a lunch time routine. Yesterday we spoke about the importance of establishing routines. The lunch time routine should include screen free time, and time outdoors, if possible. Allow your child to run around, shoot some hoops, or kick around a soccer ball.
Press pause at the end of the school day. At the end of the day, after the last goodbye’s are said to teachers and friends, have your child turn off their computer screen and take a long break. The break should be at least thirty minutes, but preferably closer to an hour. Allow them some creativity time – coloring, building with block – or even just time to rest their eyes before they jump into their homework.
What tips do you have for other parents to encourage your child to take breaks throughout their day? What lunch time routines do you have in place to help your child reset in the middle of their day?