Mar 19, 2020

With all of the changes to everyday life due to the Coronavirus, we need to help our children adjust to the new and unfamiliar situation of indefinite school and childcare center closings.

There are important steps parents can take to help safeguard their children's physical and mental health. Parents and children may find the necessary steps of changing hygiene habits, limiting screen time, limiting or blocking information on Coronavirus, and practicing healthy social distancing very challenging.

Here are some helpful tips to consider:

Disinfect all devices, toys, and games

Disinfect all devices, toys, and games your child touches regularly. A recent study indicated that that on surfaces such as plastic, metal, and glass, Coronavirus could survive from two to nine hours. Apple has recently updated its guidelines on cleaning electronic devices:

Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard nonporous surfaces of your Apple products, such as display, keyboard, or other external surfaces. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don't submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agent. Don't use on fabric or leather surface.

Consider Their Downtime

Depending on their age, your children will not have as much structure as they're used to when schools are open. And while you may be working at home through the school closing, kids are excited for a break from tests, homework and extracurricular schedules. This change in routine doesn't mean that they should run completely wild and free, though, so think of fun projects around the house or nurture a bucket list hobby to help them fill their days.

Update Your Family Media Contract

When schedules drastically change, it may be time to take another look at your household screen time rules. Consider updating your existing Family Media Contract and your teen's Social Media Contract to reflect the need for social distancing and balancing healthy screen time limits. Consider including digital curfews.

Monitor and limit screen time much more vigorously

Now that your children may be off of a regular school schedule, it is more important than ever to keep limits on screen time and to monitor your child's media consumption, since the controls on your child's school-issued devices may not protect them at your home.

Filter Coronavirus terms on all devices

Binge-watching updates on the status of CODIV-19 can increase anxiety. Most information distributed on news outlets and on social media about COVID-19 is designed to inform adults and can cause stress and confusion in younger children. Based on the age of your child and their anxiety level, you may want to use Net Nanny's filter to block or monitor the COVID-19 and Coronavirus terms. Net Nanny's COVID-19 filter enables parents to either monitor their children's exposure to coronavirus information online or simply block it completely. It works across all browsers on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.

Designate Media-Free Family Time

Unplugging as a family can help strengthen your communication and keep you in tune with what's going on in your children's lives. Dinner time is a great place to start, and all family members need to place phones out of reach - including Mom and Dad.

Identify Screen-Free Zones

For example, designate the dining room, bathrooms, and bedrooms as rooms in the home where media is not permitted. Creating screen-free zones will help your family not only target their screen time use in public locations, reducing the possibility of risky behavior but will also allow your family detox areas away from technology.

Create a Screen Time Reward System

Institute a system for your children to earn screen time by requiring 30 minutes of reading or an unplugged family activity in exchange for 30 minutes of screen time. Another option is swapping 15 minutes using an educational app in exchange for 15 minutes of an entertainment app, video game, or social media.

Learn Together

We encourage you to join forces with your child and learn together by discovering which apps and games are popular, fun, or helpful to use as a family. The time spent together will not only increase your knowledge base but will give you something to bond over with your kids. For information about which apps are safe for your kids to use, access our App Advisor.

Make the Most of the Warmer Weather

Consider getting outside and taking a family walk or hike. Try your best to add physical activity into your family's schedule. Consider requiring your children to have some type of physical activity (chores, walk, or active exercise) before having downtime online.

Be Consistent

It's incredibly important to consistently monitor the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen. Depending on the age of your child, set an appropriate time limit and content limit on the material your child is viewing. It's equally important that, as a parent, you ensure the material your child is viewing is age-appropriate and offers educational or social value.

There is no rule book on how best to parent during a pandemic. Communication is essential for establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with your child during this trying time. Make every effort to understand what your child is watching, why they like it, and what they're getting out of it. If you need additional support in managing your child’s technology use Net Nanny has free parent guides and checklists in our resource center.

Kristin Maclaughlin

Kristin MacLaughlin, VP Consumer Marketing for Content Watch, mother of three and always in search of ways that technology can help simplify and connect families.